from Zero Hedge:
For the past several weeks it seemed as if Germany had truly become the promised land for Mideast asylum seekers, primarily those seeking to escape the Syrian civil (and global proxy) war, but according to various media reports, also a material number of “ISIS-linked terrorists.” Then it all came crashing down earlier today when Germany’s beloved by all refugees “Mutti” said genug, and with one decision shut down the border with Austria in the process unraveling decades of customs-union progress (following promptly by theCzech Republic doing the same, with Italy expected to follow suit in the hours ahead).
Ironically, just as Europe is shutting its doors to Syrian refugees, the US is opening its own.
On Friday, Obama said that the United States will admit 10,000 Syrian refugees for resettlement over the next 12 months, following criticism that America is not doing enough with Europe’s migrant crisis.
How will this take place logistically? As AFP notes, “this would represent a huge increase in the number of families arriving on US soil. In the more that four years since fighting erupted barely 1,800 Syrians have been welcomed here.” Which is why the French wire service did a brief summary of the various steps involved in admitting a record number of Syrians on US soil.
Here are the key points:
- How will Obama’s promise be delivered and what hurdles are keeping the refugees from arriving sooner
More than four million people have fled the fighting in Syria since 2011 and most are living in camps in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq, where the UN High Commissioner for Refugees registers them. Some 18,000 of these people — chosen because they are the most vulnerable whether through family circumstances, injury or disability – have been referred to the United States for resettlement. Officers from the Department of Homeland Security fly from Washington to the camps and conduct interviews with candidates, seeking to weed out what a US official called “liars, criminals and terrorists.” Each case file is reviewed by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s terrorist screening center, the DHS, the Department of Defense and “other agencies” – US intelligence.
“Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States,” another State Department official told reporters.Meanwhile they receive medical tests and those with communicable diseases, most commonly tuberculosis, are given treatment before they can travel to the United States, often delaying the process.
Currently the procedure takes between 18 and 24 months from the time UNHCR recommends a refugee for resettlement and that person’s flight to America.
It is not clear how much the screening process for Syrians costs, but the US government spent $1.1 billion last year resettling 70,000 people from around the world, or almost $16,000 per head.
- Can the process be sped up?
Critics note that if the United States takes two years to screen each of the 10,000 refugees Obama has promised to welcome none will have arrived before he leaves office.
But, according to a US official, thousands of cases are already in the pipeline and will hopefully now be processed faster.
“We have been resettling Syrian refugees in small numbers since 2011 and it was only in June of 2014 that UNHCR started submitting large numbers of referrals, between 500 and 1,000 per month,” she said.
“Those referrals have come pretty steadily since last June to the point where we now have a critical mass. We at the State Department have already prepared the cases for more than 10,000 people.”
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