How We're Welcoming Syrian Refugees While Ensuring Our Safety

Posted by Amy Pope
November 20, 2015
A Syrian mother hugs her child after they arrived from Turkey at the Greek island of Lesbos

The President’s number one priority -- and my focus every day -- is the safety and security of the American people. At the President’s direction, bolstered by a global coalition of 65 partners, we are taking the fight to ISIL -- working together to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group.
The tragic event in Paris last week was a horrific attack on humanity, but we have always said that defeating an enemy as dangerous and determined as ISIL will be a long fight. Now, even as we intensify our efforts in coordination with our partners to take ISIL out, we cannot turn our backs on those most threatened by the terrorist group.
The refugees that have captivated so much attention in the wake of Friday’s attack are fleeing precisely the type of senseless slaughter that occurred in Paris. To slam the door in their faces -- to decide not to help when we know that we can help -- would be a betrayal of our values. It would be un-American.

That’s why, once it was concluded that we can do it safely, the President announced a plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States next year. We remain steadfastly committed to that plan because it is consistent with our values and our national security.
We are going to do the right thing in the right way -- protecting the American people even as we provide refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Here’s how:


  • Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States, including the involvement of the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense.
  • All refugees, including Syrians, are admitted only after successful completion of this stringent security screening regime, which includes all available biographic and biometric information vetted against a broad array of law enforcement and intelligence community databases to confirm identity and ensure safety.
  • This screening process has been enhanced over the last few years to ensure we are effectively utilizing the full scope of our intelligence community to review each applicant.
  • Mindful of the particular conditions of the Syria crisis, Syrian refugees go through additional forms of security screening. We continue to examine options for further enhancements for screening Syrian refugees, the details of which are classified. 

Focus on the Most Vulnerable

  • The Administration’s emphasis is on admitting the most vulnerable Syrians -- particularly survivors of violence and torture, those with severe medical conditions, and women and children -- in a manner that is consistent with our national security. 

In the days since the attack on Paris some have taken the narrow view that protecting Americans from ISIL mandates that we turn our back on those most at risk to the terrorist group -- the men, women and children forced to flee their homes and families, their schools and communities. The Administration rejects the flawed view that we can’t ensure our own safety while also welcoming refugees desperately seeking their own safety. The truth is: America can and must do both.

Snapshot of the rigorous screening for refugees allowed into the U.S. [White House Photo]

About the Author: ‎Amy Pope is Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security.

Editor's Note: This blog entry originally appeared on the White House Blog.

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V L.
Wisconsin, USA
November 20, 2015
My governor is an idiot. How can I help? I can offer temporary housing to a single woman, or woman with small child.
November 21, 2015
Europe began to recive the refugees people from Middle East and Africa who flee front of the war,violence,misery and catastrophe first time in the last year.The conflicts force millions people to leave their countries and looking for asylum in Europe.Navy Forces save the lifes of the refugees every day,they can´t stop the migration, they can´t closed Europe front of them. Many people,woman with children,pregnant woman walking hundred kilometers looking for a place where they can proceed their life with condition and in peace.It was a big misstake the Comission EU with High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Segurity Policy Federica Morgherini and ONU who began to solve the distribution of the refugees so late between european countries who accepted the partcipation of the reception of the migrants. Some countries closed their borders the front of the refugees,what was dramatic.These countries have little territhory and haven´t economic possibility and condition to give place to many people. The hummanitarian organisations with ONU must build refugees camps or S.O.S. villages where they can crack these displacement people before the winter, where they have all protection and condition to live till they find the stability of their lifes or they can return in their countries. Portugal supported the people always who suffer from the war and violence.Our Goverment taked an important resolution, we will to give place to four thausand refugees people from the beginning of the next year. I think many nations live mixture together in the european countries,how language and marriges the human race are crossing all way till we will be one nation just in Europe or in all World. It´s so important we wellcome all refugees with love in all communities they can trust to us. My regards @EVAMacilaci
Mark H.
Pennsylvania, USA
November 24, 2015
Well done!
Carla S.
New Mexico, USA
November 24, 2015
yes - please allow these refugees in
javier A.
El Salvador
November 25, 2015
Nayer T.
Hawaii, USA
November 25, 2015
Thanks for the spirit-lifting blog on the action taken to respond to such great demand. America has always been the beacon of light and hope for those who suffer all around the world. My own life journey escaping Iran some 25 years ago with a three year old son is a sample of American promise kept helping others to "pursue happiness." As a spiritual care provider for the most vulnerable patients (pediatric palliative care,) as well as a survivor of war and revolution in Iran, I always care about the safety and life condition of all children. As we know there are thousands and thousands of Syrian orphans who's care is on the shoulder of other family members or even neighbors. Is this possible to create a specific program to only cover serving this young population? Such young generation not only demand a much less security-concerning process; but also as the most vulnerable of vulnerable they'd have much flexibility and energy to learn loving the US as their new home country. Thanks for all you do to serve the constitution of this great country, Nayer Taheri


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