Refugees and national security in the U.S.

32428135622_e4f12d607d_m.jpgAt the end of his first week in office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order which placed a 120-day moratorium on refugee resettlement to the U.S., cut the number of refugees admitted annually to 50,000 and indefinitely banned the acceptance of Syrian refugees. During a speech at the Pentagon, Trump claimed that these measures were put in place to “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America”.

A 2016 study by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, sheds light on the number of terrorism incidents involving refugees in the U.S. Between 1975 and 2015, 20 refugees – of over 3 million admitted to the U.S. – were convicted of terrorism. There were three fatalities, all from attacks committed by Cubans in the 1970s. However, the Institute notes that all these attacks occurred before the rigorous refugee screening procedures used today were put in place by the 1980 Refugee Act. They found that an American’s annual chance of dying in a terrorist attack committed by refugees is one in 3.64 billion. The report’s author, Alex Nowrasteh, has recently argued that Trump’s executive order “will have…virtually no effect on improving U.S. national security”.

Photo: Dulles International Airport (VA) Muslim Ban Protest. Photograph: Geoff Livingston. CC-BY-NC-ND