When we present information about refugee resettlement in Tennessee, we get a lot of security questions. We remind people of two things: The vetting process is detailed and thorough; and, the role of our office begins when refugees arrive in Tennessee.
A quick word about point two: We get phone calls, emails, and Facebook messages from displaced people or their loved ones asking for help. They all get the same unsatisfying response. We do not get to choose who comes to Tennessee. We always wish we could send help to the voice on the other end of the message, but that is just not how the system works.
So, what about the security vetting of refugees? There are some great resources explaining the security process. Here are some we recommend.
- Get the step-by-step breakdown with this infographic. What agencies are involved? What happens if new information becomes evident? What information is collected?https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2015/11/20/infographic-screening-process-refugee-entry-united-states
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides considerable detail into the screening steps refugees undergo, including advanced screening for Syrians. https://www.uscis.gov/refugeescreening
- For those concerned about Syrian refugees because of the crisis in Europe: Refugees to the US are screened before they arrive here. If a person arrives at our border and says they cannot go home (like what is happening in Europe), that person is piped into our asylum system. This graphic details the differences between those two processes. https://www.texasobserver.org/how-to-get-asylum-become-refugee-infographic/
Refugees are the most thoroughly vetted individuals allowed into the United States. There will always be risk when we allow anyone through our borders for any reason. However, those of us who work daily with and for refugees know that the benefits outweigh the risks when it comes to welcoming the stranger – those benefits are extended not only to the families who make the US their home, but also to the communities in which they thrive. We ask that you join us by getting to know these newcomers.