A proposal to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States has ignited a bitter debate in Washington, but more than 10 times that number of people from the embattled country have quietly come to America since 2012, according to figures obtained by FoxNews.com.
Some 102,313 Syrians were granted admission to the U.S. as legal permanent residents or through programs including work, study and tourist visas from 2012 through August of this year, a period which roughly coincides with the devastating civil war that still engulfs the Middle Eastern country. Experts say any fears that terrorists might infiltrate the proposed wave of refugees from United Nations-run camps should be dwarfed by the potential danger already here.
“The sheer number of people arriving on all kinds of visas and with green cards, and possibly U.S. citizenship, makes it impossible for our counterterrorism authorities to keep track of them all, much less prevent them from carrying out attacks or belatedly try to deport them,” said Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Numbers obtained from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection show 60,010 Syrian visa holders have entered the U.S. since 2012, including 16,245 this year through August. Additional numbers provided by a Congressional source showed another 42,303 Syrians were granted citizenship or green cards during the same period.
“It is highly unlikely that the 102,313 Syrians who were admitted over the past three years were effectively vetted,” said spokesman Ira Mehlman, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Even in countries where we have a strong diplomatic presence, the sheer volume of background checks being carried out precludes the kind of thorough vetting that is necessary.”