Are Syrian Refugees a real threat?


A belief amongst a growing number of government leaders and the general public that the presence of Syrian refugees in the United States will subject us to acts of terrorism on American soil is unwarranted and based on fear rather than fact.

The State of Texas, as well as more than 20 other States, has taken action to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees within their borders in response to President Obama’s announcement that the United States will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees.

Additionally, there is a growing sentiment amongst the general populous that this action is necessary to protect us against terrorism and in particular terrorism from the Syrians. Neither the prejudice of the people or its’ leaders is warranted.

This prejudice has been fueled by the recent acts of terrorism against the citizens of Paris and misguided belief that a Syrian national was involved. Social media has assisted in spreading this phobia in frightening degree. In February of 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, under Executive Order 9066, ordered the incarceration of Japanese-Americans. With the assistance of the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 100,000 persons of Japanese ancestry and some less than 1/16th ancestry were forced to leave their homes and relocate to internment camps; an alarming 62 percent of these were American citizens. The incarceration stemmed from the belief that those of Japanese ancestry were loyal to Japan and were unassimilable into American society whether born here or not. Lieutenant General John L. Dewitt, who administered the internment program, repeatedly told the media that, “a Jap’s a Jap” and testified before Congress, “I don’t want any of them here,” regarding those of Japanese ancestry. “They are a dangerous element… we must worry about the Japanese all the time until it is wiped off the map.” Initially the public sentiment was in defense of the Japanese-Americans; however, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, fueled by the fear of the media as well as civilian and military leaders, sentiment on the West Coast began to turn against Japanese-American loyalty. The Japanese-Americans contributed critical agricultural labor on the West Coast and the loss of this labor which was further impacted by the loss of other labor to the Armed Forces precipitated a mass immigration of Mexican workers.

The Syrian refugees we are led to believe should be feared are fleeing war and terrorism in their homeland.

The Civil War, exceeding four years, has claimed the life of more than 200,000 of which tens of thousands were civilians. To escape extremist violence, the refugees in question are willing to risk their life and that of their children and family members, abandon their homes and float on inflatable rafts across the Aegean Sea.

They will not find immediate safety, food, shelter, etc. and many countries will close their border to them, those countries having already accepted thousands, rather, they will live in make-shift camps for months and more likely years with hope of acceptance. It does not seem likely terrorists would utilize this route in order to gain access to American soil as it would be easier for them to simply obtain a visitor’s visa.

As of November 2015, according to the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees there is a relative 50/50 influx of males and females. Of these numbers, more than half of the Syrian refugees are under the age of 17 with almost 40 percent under the age of 11. It is true that there seems to be more men; however, this is comprised of approximately 800,000 refugees with citizens from Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Nigeria and other nations where instability and violence abound. Of the 2000 Syrian refugees admitted, two percent are men of fighting age. Perhaps, the President is closer to the truth when he states, in reality, the fear portrayed is that “of widows and orphans.”

Further analysis reflects that since September 11, 2001 not one refugee resettled in the U.S. has been arrested on domestic terrorism. Those arrested have been admitted through other lawful means of immigration, not refugees.

The Paris investigation revealed that the Syrian passport was forged and all identified thus far as European Nationals. It has been suggested that ISIS may be using Syrian passports to create retaliation against the refugees. It is not unfathomable, considering ISIS has overtaken half of Syria and desires to overtake the entire country. A main objective of ISIS is to create a clash amongst the Muslim World and the West and our reactions are fulfilling exactly that.

The possibility of a Syrian refugee taking terroristic action on American soil does exist just as the possibility of Japanese loyalty to the home country existed during World War II; however, we would benefit from intelligently assessing the situation before formulating opinions and actions. A humanitarian gesture to citizens of a country torn apart by extremist violence seems more appropriate.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2016 issue of Elite Attorney SA. Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Tammy Wincott Tammy L. Wincott is an Immigration Attorney with Wincott Law Firm, PC. Contact her at

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