Resettlement agency says refugees are highly scrutinized before they arrive in U.S.

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- The suspect in the attack on Ohio State University’s campus Monday was a refugee from Somalia. He moved to the United States with his family from Pakistan two years ago. The family spent time in Dallas before settling in Ohio.

A U.S. official said Abdul Razak Ali Artan’s family underwent more than two years of intense vetting before being allowed into the United States.

“Refugees are more highly scrutinized than any other traveler that comes to the United States,” said Ann Brittain, the Immigration and Refugee Assistance Program Director for Catholic Charities in Buffalo.

She said the attack shows the risk but told News 4 it’s an isolated event.

“What we can’t let it do is victimize all refugees,” said Brittain.”I’ve seen thousands of thousands of refugees come through our doors and now they own restaurants, they own businesses, they’re teachers, they’re doctors, they’re nurses and here’s one person.”

According to the United Nations High Commission of Refugees, less than one percent of all refugees worldwide can move forward with resettlement.

“Many of these people sit in refugee camps 10, 12, 15 years waiting to get through the process, for the Department of State to process them to come into the country,” said Brittain.

A refugee has to present his or her case to the UNHCR to get refugee status. If it’s approved, they’re screened by the FBI, State Department, National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS and USCIS also conduct interviews, finger prints are submitted and a medical screening is performed.

“If any question comes up during the security checks, or there’s any doubt at all, the process gets stopped until it can be verified,” said Brittain.

There is also recurrent screening. All refugees must apply for a green card when they arrive in the U.S., which launches another set of security procedures.

Brittain said Western New Yorkers should not be fearful.

“This was an individual who is responsible for his actions but it cannot, and should not, taint all Somalis, all Muslims, all refugees,” she said.

 

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