As the debate on Syrian refugees continues to polarize the American public, a new poll by Gallup is showing that few Syrian are all that interested in coming to the United States. The analysis found that of 1,002 adults interviewed in Syria, only 6% said they wanted to resettle in the United States or Canada. As regions go, North America came in dead last.
The findings also show that 46% Syrians would leave the country if they could. The poll was conducted in January and had a 3.5% margin of error.
Europe was the undisputed winner among potential refugees with 39% of Syrians saying they would prefer to settle somewhere on the continent. The Middle East and North Africa took a close second with 35%, and Asia tied with "not sure" at 10%.
"There is nothing in the data that we found that would imply that anyone is particularly trying to come to the U.S.," said Mohamed Younis, a senior analyst at Gallup, Reuters reported.
Since the terrorist attacks in Paris which left at least 130 people dead, refugees fleeing Syria's civil war have come under increased scrutiny in the United States. More than half of U.S. governors have said their states will not accept refugees — even though they technically have no authority to refuse.
"States don't get to make immigration policy," Joseph Best, a Philadelphia immigration attorney previously told Mic.
Much of the furor relates to a refugee passport found by the bodies of one of the Paris attackers in the Bataclan theater. Debate is ongoing as to whether the passport was forged or deliberately carried by one of the gunman. Though according to the Wall Street Journal, fingerprints from the body of a gunman matched those of a man who entered Europe from Syria via the Greek island of Leros.
Despite the obvious possibility of an ISIS militant trying to infiltrate the U.S. refugee system, past precedent and the system itself indicates that the United States is remarkably adept at preventing such scenarios. Speaking anonymously to Mic, a Department of Homeland Security official with intimate knowledge of the U.S. refugee screening process called it "one of the most robust security check programs within any immigration process."
"It is one of the most robust security check programs within any immigration process."
The process can take up to two years to complete in full and it's worth noting that none of the 9/11 hijackers arrived in the U.S. as refugees but rather came with student, tourist and business visas all of which have considerably expedited processing times.
While it's not unheard of for those who come to the U.S. as refugees to later be caught up in terrorism, the numbers show such instances to be on the far end of unlikely. Of the more than three quarters of a million refugees resettled by the United States since 9/11, you could count the number arrested for terrorism on one hand — three fingers to be exact — according to the Migration Policy Institute.
"The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001," reads a report by the group. "In those 14 years, exactly three resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities — and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible."
A recent George Washington University report suggests that ISIS has been more successful converting existing U.S. citizens to their cause, with some reportedly even reaching "mid-level leadership positions within the group."
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