How Refugees Are Vetted Before Allowed Into the United States

Excerpted from a column in the Denver Post on February 1, 2017 titled “Refugees and Immigrants Need Support, Not Fear,” by Megan Schrader.

“Colorado took in 1,960 refugees in 2016, mostly from war-torn countries like Burma, with 524 individuals, and Iraq, with 299. Many come from other nations with deep-seated political problems and indiscriminate violence.

“The vetting process, from the outside, certainly seems rigorous.

“For refugees, the first step is obtaining refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Then, in order to apply, someone must be referred by a U.S. Embassy, the U.N or a qualified relief organization. Homeland Security vets the person based on documentation (which can be limited in many cases), in-person interviews, biometric screenings including facial recognition, and several database checks for fingerprints. The process can take years.

“The fear of some coming here intending to do us harm is real. But in a war of cultures, we should be embracing those who have fled from our common enemies with opportunity and compassion.”