Ben Carson: Don't Take Syrian Refugees Without Enhanced Screening Mechanisms

Ben Carson
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to the Commonwealth Club at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, California, September 8, 2015. |

As the United States prepares to grant thousands of Syrian refugees asylum in the next fiscal year, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson warned over the weekend that the United States shouldn't allow any refugees into the country until a stricter refugee screening process has been implemented.

While appearing on ABC's "This Week," Carson was asked to explain how he would handle the current Syrian refugee situation, which the U.S. government announced last week that it will prepare take in up to 10,000 Syrian asylum seekers in the fiscal year 2016.

The retired neurosurgeon explained that the United States should create more thorough screening procedures to ensure that asylum seekers being let into the country don't turn out to be radical extremists like the the Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who immigrated to the United States as refugees from Kyrgyzstan and then carried out the 2013 bombing that killed six and injured 280.

"I would recognize that bringing in people from the Middle East right now carries extra danger and we have to be extra cautious," Carson answered. "You know, the typical mechanisms that we use for screening people, perhaps, have to be enhanced."

"I know we have a process, but how effective is it? How does it, you know, let people like the Tsarnaev brothers in here?" Carson asked. "We cannot put our people at risk because we're trying to be politically correct."

In a Saturday interview with NPR, Carson issued similar remarks saying that the Syrian refugee crisis serves as an ample opportunity for jihadis to blend in with refugees seeking asylum.

"We have to recognize that this is a splendid opportunity for the global jihadists to infiltrate those numbers with members of their own organization," Carson said. "So we would have to have in place a very excellent screening mechanism. Until we had such a mechanism in place, we should not be bringing anybody in."

As the United States has only taken in a total of 1,800 refugees throughout the entire four years of the Syrian civil conflict, taking in 10,000 in one year is a large increase.

"Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States," a State Department official told media outlets.

According to Business Insider, some 18,000 refugees have already been referred to the United States for resettlement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

As the U.S. receives resettlement referrals, the government uses an NGO to pre-screen the refugee candidates for eligibility.

Afterwards, the refugees are given health and security screenings, where officials from the Department of Homeland Security fly to refugee camps to interview the candidates to eliminate the criminals and terrorists.

Refugees' files are also reviewed by National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI's terrorist screening center, the Department of Defense, the DHS and other intelligence agencies.

Refugees who passed the screenings are tested for communicable diseases and are given treatment before they can go to the the United States

The process takes anywhere from 18 to 24 months and can cost up to 16,000 per person.

As the State Department official claimed that the refugees are subject to the "highest level" of security screenings of any inbound traveler, it is unclear as to what specific suggestions Carson has to make the process even more reliable.

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