by Candice Malcolm
March 2, 2016
Twenty-five thousand Syrians in, 25,000 to go.
First, the Trudeau government ordered Canada’s immigration and security officials to work around the clock to reach the Liberals’ political target of admitting 25,000 Syrian refugees in just four months.
It was supposed to be two months, but thankfully the officials talked some sense into their partisan bosses.
Now, as Trudeau pats himself on the back for being so altruistic, he’s ordering his officials to do it all over again. Canada will admit another 25,000 refugees by the end of 2016.
Meanwhile, a recent public opinion poll found an astonishing 70% of Canadians disagree with Trudeau’s Syrian refugee policy. They say 25,000 is enough and Canada should not accept any more refugees.
Perhaps Canadians would be more willing to welcome additional refugees if Justin Trudeau and his government addressed the security implications of their decisions.
There are two major security questions they have still failed to answer.
First, how can we verify the identity of the people we are bringing in?
Canadian immigration and security officials use a comprehensive, multi-step screening process to select Syrian refugees, but problems may arise when it comes to verifying information with local officials.
Syria is a failed state and in most cases, there are no local police agencies or immigration officials who can verify a person’s criminal background, or worse, affiliation with a terrorist organization.
We can’t rely on Syrian passports to solve this problem, either.
ISIS has taken over official passport printing facilities and can produce authentic-looking “fake” passports to sell or hand out to their militants.
In Germany, at least 8% of Syrian passports used have been found to be fake. And those are just the ones we know about.
Canada is doing a better job than our European counterparts in maintaining the integrity of our immigration system.
We, at least, use a precise and deliberate selection process. Europe, by contrast, has flung its borders open and accepts both legitimate refugees and criminals posing as refugees.
But just because Canada’s selection process is better than Europe’s doesn’t make us immune from the problems Europe is facing.
The second security question comes from ISIS’ threat to infiltrate refugee populations with its own agents.
Canada resettles refugees from United Nations refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
It is therefore deeply concerning that a Lebanese cabinet minister recently warned that about 2% of the 1.1 million refugees living in UN camps in Lebanon were ISIS members.
Most Syrians are fleeing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, not ISIS.
These are Assad’s refugees, and among the legitimate refugees are members of rebel groups and terrorist organizations.
How can we possibly screen out terrorists and those sympathetic to radical Islamic terrorism when they are so prevalent among the populations we are selecting from? Especially with the apparent holes in our verification process.
The Trudeau government would be wise to drop the grand political gestures and let our immigration and security officials take their time and do their jobs.
They should abandon artificial targets and timelines, and start taking security threats seriously.
Trudeau should acknowledge the sensible opposition from the majority of Canadians, and address these legitimate questions about Canada’s safety and security.
This column is based on a policy paper, “From Crisis to Response: Assessing Canada’s Fast-Track Refugee Policy,” written by Malcolm for the Center for a Secure Free Society, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization.