In a recent statement, California Governor Jerry Brown announced that the state will be admitting Syrian refugees on the condition that the White House releases more information on the vetting process to state officials. This statement is in contrast to those of 31 governors across the country, who fear that admitting refugees will lead to attacks, similar to the ones in Paris on Nov. 13.
The vetting process for refugees currently takes 18 to 24 months and includes an interview process where they are asked a multitude of questions ranging from where their parents were born, to whether they are politically active. Furthermore, the House of Representatives passed a bill on Nov. 19 that would require the secretary of homeland security, director of the FBI and director of national intelligence to personally certify that each refugee is of no danger to the security of Americans.
According to the Refugee Processing Center, 218 Syrian refugees have been admitted in California. President Barack Obama’s Administration has vouched to admitting 10,000 more refugees in the next fiscal year, however the country has only been able to admit 2,200 refugees under the current vetting process.
Brown has acknowledged the need for refuge and promises to maintain the security of Californians while ensuring America’s reputation as a country of freedom, saying, “I intend to work closely with the president so that he can both uphold America’s traditional role as a place of asylum, but also ensure that anyone seeking refuge in America is fully vetted in a sophisticated and utterly reliable way.”
Meanwhile, people across the country are debating whether or not the Syrian refugees should be admitted into the country in light of the attacks in Paris, fearing that terrorists could come into the country disguised as refugees. In a poll conducted by Bloomberg Politics, it was found that 53 percent of Americans do not wish to admit anymore refugees, with only 28 percent wanting to continue with the current vetting process.
Josh McDonald, a first-year student studying international relations at UCSD, supports the statements made by Brown, stating, “With the amount of states outrightly refusing to accept any refugees, I think it’s great that Brown is willing to admit them into the state. People are too quick to label the whole group of Syrians as dangerous. Vetting should be done, as to protect the interests of American citizens, but also to make sure that the already damaged reputation of the refugees can’t be further marred by allowing in terrorists posing as refugees.”
UCR student Kristina Fernandez, a fourth-year global studies major, is currently working to promote awareness and understanding of the Syrian refugee crisis. “There’s a tendency to marginalize others. Historically we’ve seen this happen; however, it’s important to understand that refugees are victims of war. They share the same fear of atrocities, terror and violence we do. It’s unfair to demonize a group of people who are already at best vulnerable.”