Justin Trudeau, the recently elected 44-year-old Prime Minister of Canada with the movie star looks and glamorous pedigree, said at the White House on Thursday that his country’s acceptance of 25,000 Syrian refugees in just four months shows the “fundamental truth that diversity can be a source of strength.”
We believe — Canadians and Americans — in the fundamental truth that diversity can be a source of strength. That we are thriving and prosperous countries not in spite of our differences but because of them. Canadians know this. It’s why communities across the country welcomed more than 25,000 Syrian refugees over the past four months. And not as visitors or temporary citizens, but as Canadians. But of course, Americans understand this, too. It’s why each generation has welcomed newcomers seeking liberty and the promise of a better life. It’s what has made America great over the past decades.
Obama, in turn, complimented Trudeau’s population policies.
“It’s the compassion of the Canadian people welcoming refugees — and the prime minister himself, who told those refugees, ‘You’re safe at home now,’ ” Obama responded.
But not everyone is delighted with this turn of events. In November, thirty U.S. governors “publicly asked for the resettlement of Syrian refugees to stop until security concerns can be addressed,” as NPR reported at the time.
The almost-exclusively Muslim composition of those Syrian refugees in the United States is also of concern to many.
“[W]hile Syria’s largest non-Muslim group — Christians of the various Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions — constituted 10 percent of Syria’s population before the war, they are only 2.6 percent of the 2,003 Syrian refugees that the United States has accepted since then,” Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, wrote that same month at National Review.
In December, Marguerite Telford at the Center for Immigration Studies highlighted the security risks posed to the United States by the massive influx of Syrian refugees to Canada:
The significant national security threat presented by the United States’ northern border receives minimal media coverage. But as the longest common border in the world, dramatically longer than the border the United States shares with Mexico, the U.S.-Canada border provides ample opportunity for illegal border crossers to enter the United States. After the recent terrorism attack in San Bernardino, Calif., and Canada’s pledge to take in a large number of Syrian refugees, Americans need to be aware of the national security threat existing to the north.
Canada’s first 300 Syrian refugees arrived from Turkey and Jordan last week. The government has pledged to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees. Despite knowledge of vetting difficulties, the new Liberal government hints that another 25,000 could be welcomed by the end of the year. That’s 50,000 new permanent residents from an area with a widespread terrorist presence.
The government had originally set January 1 as the date for having all of the refugees processed. But in the face of public concern the date has been pushed to the end of February. In addition, the government has said it will focus on families and not include unaccompanied males in the resettlement program.
But these small tweaks do not alleviate the safety hazards associated with the refugee resettlement program. Canada does not have access to different databases than the United States to detect criminal background or terrorist links; Canada does not have better access to contacts, documents, or criminal history in Syria than the United States. But Canada’s new Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to let the public’s national security concerns deter it from opening wide the floodgates to thousands of refugees from a jihadi war zone.
The previous Conservative government, which had also committed to admitting Syrian refugees (albeit in smaller numbers), at least seemed to recognize the risk; its immigration minister said earlier this year, “We cannot ignore the risk of jihadi terrorists seeking to exploit the generosity of western nations like Canada.”
The majority of these refugees, all receiving permanent residence, will settle in Toronto and Montreal — cities in close proximity to the U.S. border. How many of these refugees will enter the United States to join the 11 million-plus illegal aliens already here? How many will join terrorist sleeper cells, which we are told exist in all 50 states?
Telford is not the only one warning about the security risk posed by these new Syrian refugees in Canada.
In November, Reuters reported that “Canada may have to cut corners” to deliver on Trudeau’s 2015 campaign promise to bring 25,000 refugees into the country by year end:
Canada’s government will inevitably have to cut some corners on security screening to achieve its ambitious goal of bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees by year-end, said current and former security sources.
The plan by newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seeks to complete in six weeks a process that can take up to two years in the United States, where last Friday’s attacks in Paris have sparked a political backlash against plans to allow in 10,000 Syrians over the coming year.
In Canada, which shares about 5,500 miles (8,850 km) of relatively porous border with the United States, Friday’s attacks have prompted calls for Trudeau to push back the Jan. 1 deadline to ensure all the refugees are properly screened.
Trudeau has vowed to stick to the plan, reiterating the security of Canadians would be paramount when dealing with the refugees.
The Canadian plan will entail background checks that include biometric and fingerprint checks, as well as health assessments. Some screening will have to be done after the refugees arrive in Canada given the short time frame.
That could create vulnerabilities, said one recently retired Canadian intelligence official, since a refugee could already be in the country by the time any red flags are raised by the screening.
“You can’t say that when you cut some corners and speed up the system that it’s completely risk-free,” said the former official, who has knowledge of the immigration system. . .
The ex-official said it was unclear if the refugees would immediately be free to settle in Canada or would be detained in some way pending further screening.
A current Canadian intelligence official said there was “a clear risk” given the pace at which security screeners would have to work to interview, select and process such a high volume of applicants.
A number of Canadian citizens have security concerns as well. 48,000 have signed a petition to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees, which reads in part:
Petition is needed to stop resettling 25,000 refugees in our peaceful land! When you are the leader of the country ,the SAFETY of Canadians should be your number one priority! It is unrealistic to do the proper refugee’s screening in such a short period of time. While the screening process generally takes 3 years and longer ,you made the promise to finish the “refugee business” in two months! The hustle to bring a large number of Syrian people in a short period of time has potential to overlook terrorists. We can not afford to import terrorists to Canada. Not even a single one.Our policy on admitting refugees should be: security first, then compassion. The catastrophe that just happened in Paris means that we need to spend money to strengthen the security against terrorism!
The Syrian operative claimed: more than 4,000 covert ISIS gunmen had been smuggled into western nations – hidden amongst innocent refugees.
“It only took a handful of people to completely turn Paris upside down on Friday, and it took only a handful of people to do the same to the U.S. Sept 11/ 2001. Even if one percent of the refugee’s are terrorists hiding, that is 250 people who could turn the world upside down. Think about it.”
The ease with which any of these 25,000 new Syrian refugees in Canada could literally walk across the vast border that separates the two countries and enter the United States is a security risk that apparently bothers neither Prime Minister Trudeau, nor President Obama.
It should, however, be of great concern to American law enforcement and American citizens.