News / USA

    Syrian Refugee Flow to Canada Probed in Washington

    FILE - Syrian refugees wait at Marka Airport in Amman, Jordan, to complete their migration procedures to Canada, Dec. 8, 2015.
    FILE - Syrian refugees wait at Marka Airport in Amman, Jordan, to complete their migration procedures to Canada, Dec. 8, 2015.
    Michael Bowman

    Canada's goal of admitting 50,000 Syrian refugees by year's end is provoking security concerns in Washington, where lawmakers Wednesday questioned Ottawa's ability to adequately screen a large influx of newcomers on a short timetable.

    Given the porous U.S.-Canadian border, any terrorist infiltrators admitted to Canada could easily slip into the United States, according to the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Republican Ron Johnson.

    "We have a pretty unsecured border with Canada. It's never represented much of a threat," Johnson said. "Islamic terror represents a threat. It's real, it's growing. This is a legitimate concern."

    The senator represents Wisconsin, which shares Lake Superior with Canada. He presided over a hearing Wednesday in which Canadian experts testified about the challenges posed by newly-installed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's pledge to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees by March 1, and a total of 50,000 by December.

    Monumental task

    Canadian intelligence expert David Harris said the task before Canada is monumental, given that the United States has only agreed to admit 10,000 Syrians and the U.S. population is nine times that of Canada.

    FILE - Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau helps a young Syrian refugee try on a winter coat after she arrived with her family from Beirut at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Dec. 11, 2015.
    FILE - Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau helps a young Syrian refugee try on a winter coat after she arrived with her family from Beirut at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Dec. 11, 2015.

    "Therefore, 25,000 refugees in Canada would be the equivalent of 225,000 refugees in the United States," Harris said. "If the extensive U.S. intelligence system would have trouble security-screening 10,000 Syrians in a year, how likely is it that Canada, even with valuable U.S. assistance, could adequately screen two-and-a-half times that number in four months?"

    In advance of the hearing, Canada's ambassador in Washington, Gary Doer, wrote the committee, saying, "Rest assured that no corners, including security screening, are being cut in order to achieve the government's objectives. Rather, the government has devoted significant resources to this effort."

    Canadian immigration attorney Guidy Mamann told senators that Canadian agencies involved in refugee matters will do their utmost to fulfill their duties.

    "I have no doubt that they will not intentionally cut corners in order to deliver a politically expedient result," Mamann said. "However, they will be under tremendous pressure to deliver an unprecedented volume of work in record time. … They are going to be tired."

    Opposition called irrational

    A Republican-led effort to impose strict conditions on the acceptance of Syrian refugees to the United States passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate last month. More than two dozen governors have said they do not want Syrians settled in their states.

    Whether in the United States or Canada, fear of Syrian refugees is irrational, according to Sen. Tom Carper, the committee's top Democrat, who noted there are far quicker and easier routes to get to North America.

    "An ISIS person would have to be crazy or stupid to try to get here through our most-closely vetted program," Carper said, using an acronym for Islamic State. "From what I can tell, it [Canada's refugee program] looks a lot like ours. Like us, Canada carefully screens potential candidates while they are overseas."

    The committee also received testimony from U.S. Border Patrol agent Dean Mandel, who said the U.S.-Canadian border is not difficult to traverse legally or illegally. Even so, Mandel noted that refugees account for a tiny proportion of the foreigners arriving in Canada, including tourists, students and business travelers.

    "Candidly, of greater concern [than Syrian refugees] for me, from a border security perspective, are over 5 million foreign visitors that enter Canada annually," Mandel said.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Drew
    February 05, 2016 10:53 AM
    You do not speak for all Candians Celia. Left Wing Canadians like Trudoh are more dangerous to Americans and Canadians "We should pull out of the war on Isis, and instead take in a group of people who will try to make it illegal to be Christian and who try to change our laws to fit their culture so don't get their feelings hurt" that is BS and Trudoh should go to Jail for selling our National Security and Country out to Muslims. I am sick and tired of the moronic thinking of Eastern Canadians and Vancouver hippies who are trying to force their selfish views on others.

    This is why Canada is never taken seriously because Canadians act like cry babies when they don't get what they want. It astounds me of how many Canadians voted liberal because they liked how Justin looked. That in itself proves Canadians are not as smart and not brave at all where Americans are smart and more brave than Lefty Canadians ever could be. I will be making Canadians look bad when I am in America by telling and anyone that Canada is a country full of enviro crazies who should bein a mental institution.

    by: Celia Finley
    February 04, 2016 9:00 AM
    Americans clearly don't realize that we consider right-wing fundamentalist American politicians to be far more dangerous to our security in Canada than Syrian refugees which have been vetted up the yingyang by our Canadian govt security personnel. Visiting the United States is far more dangerous to Canadians security. Your country is a psychopathic, gun toting nightmare filled with racists and religious bigots with IQs lower than slugs. If you had better prenatal care available free to all women as we do in Canada, perhaps you wouldnt have so many morons and you wouldn't have infant and maternal death rates twice as high as Canada.

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