This post is part of a student series written by BMS Senior Madi Johnson. Feel free to contact her at [email protected] if you’re interested in commenting on a future topic.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, over eleven million people have left Syria to seek asylum, according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. The majority of refugees have gone to neighboring countries, such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, while an estimated 150,000 have fled to the European Union. A smaller group of about 2,200 have been admitted to the United States.
Syrians hoping to seek asylum in the United States must undergo a rigorous screening process that takes 18 to 24 months to complete. According to Brian Hansfeld, a UNHCR spokesman, the UNHCR selects the most vulnerable individuals — such as single mothers, torture victims, abandoned children, and those with special medical needs — to recommended for resettlement. They must undergo security screenings from multiple agencies and in-person interviews with Homeland Security. Specialists working for the Department of Defense and the FBI review biographical claims and check fingerprints, passports, family registries and military records.