Donald J. Patterson

Syrian Refugee Teach-In

Graphic from Westmont Syrian Refugee Teach-In

Refugee Teach-In at Westmont College Today

There will be a one hour teach-in on the Syrian Refugee crisis today at noon on the Westmont College Dining Commons lawn (or Founder’s if raining). I was asked to speak to the vetting-process/security-threat angle briefly. Between handling the immigration of my oldest son, a Top Secret clearance in the military, requesting my TSA records via a FOIA request, and enrolling in TSA Pre-Check program I’ve certainly seen how these kinds of processes work. I’m also informed on issues of digital privacy and big data if that comes up. This issue is so jumbled with concerns of religion, gun violence and justice.  The other participating faculty and I hope to help students sort through the issues at play and to stop acting out of fear.  We created some great documents on short notice listed below.

Some of my talking points

Here are a few of the points that I want to make:

  • The U.S. has the luxury of elaborate vetting processes because the refugees are not on our doorstep
  • ~2000 Syrians passed through our vetting process last year
    • Sweden has 2000 applications for asylum every 3 days
  • It takes about two years to be granted refugee status to enter the U.S.  In the meantime you are living precariously somewhere else.
    • In contrast it took me ~9 months to get a Top Secret clearance in the Navy
  • If you are Syrian you will have your iris scanned and fingerprints taken several times while being vetted
  • Your risk of being killed by a terrorist, if you are living in the U.S., is about the same as dying while getting a snack from a vending machine and five times less likely than being hit by lightning
  • The San Bernardino shooters were not refugees.  One was a U.S. citizen and the other came into the U.S. through a fiancé program
  • Since 9/11, 7 jihadists have killed 26 people in the U.S. 434 people have died from eating undercooked meat during that same period.

Bottom Line: We are afraid of the wrong things


Supporting Documents

Here are some of the documents that we produced under very short timeline, relying heavily on other sources such as the fabulous Historicizing Refugees.

Westmont and the Syrian Refugee Crisis FAQ

What to do about the Syrian Refugee Crisis

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