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Admitting Syrian Refugees: Is The Threat of Islamic State Infiltration Justified

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Millions of refugees have fled Syria because of directed violence from the Assad regime and by the Islamic State. The United States has a choice between admitting refugees to aid in human suffering, or to restrict Syrians based on security concerns. Humanitarian proponents believe the United States should increase resettlement to ease suffering and alleviate the migration crisis in the countries of first asylum. Security proponents believe insufficient vetting methods exist to prevent Islamic State operatives from entering the United States through the refugee program. This thesis evaluates the current U.S. refugee vetting policy against the humanitarian and security camps by examining the refugee experience and the refugee terrorist threat. This thesis concludes that there is no credible threat of Islamic State operatives infiltrating the U.S. refugee program, due to extensive vetting procedures already in place. Refugees have not committed any successful terrorist acts in the United States since the passage of the Refugee Act of1980. The Islamic State remains a threat to Western populations, but fears of its infiltration through the refugee program are unrealistic. The Islamic State recruits Western operatives through electronic media, and risking exposure during the vetting process is unnecessary when easier means of access are available.

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Technical Report



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Approved For Public Release;

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