One more shooting, one more sickening death toll, one more opportunity for politicians, pundits and any person with a social media account to make waves with their opinion about gun laws. That certainly is a worthy topic, but I don’t think my two cents needed to be tossed into that less-than-peaceful fountain right now, following this latest shooting in San Bernardino, California. I do find it interesting, though that while some are solely blaming gun laws and others are solely blaming radical Islam, neither are blaming both, which I think is probably more accurate. But I digress. While everyone was busy arguing about who to blame, I noticed something about this situation that I wish more people would notice.
Let me rewind just a little. For the last few weeks, the refugee crisis in Syria has been a hot-button issue, but it is nothing new. Yet people who knew nothing about refugees or Syria suddenly became experts because of the horrific attacks in Paris and the thought that ISIS fighters might be posing as refugees in order to carry out a terrorist attack.
I don’t blame anyone for being concerned about our security: the world seems to be getting less safe by the day. But this worry flies in the face of this fact: out of all the different ways to enter the United States (legal and illegal), being granted refugee status is arguably the most difficult. The amount of time that it takes and the number of background checks required make it unlikely that a terrorist would choose it over a less rigorous or time-consuming one, say going to Central America and coming across the border, or obtaining a tourist visa or a fiancée visa. It’s not something that many people knew about, but ignorance didn’t stop the fear-mongering.
Now let’s return to the San Bernardino shooting: it was carried out by a married couple, and the husband was an American citizen. The wife was a Pakistani citizen, but she was able to obtain a fiancée visa and enter the U.S. much more quickly than if she had posed as a Syrian refugee. So in this case one of the terrorists beat the system, not by taking the hardest way (pretending to be a refugee), but by taking an easier way (fiancee visa). But it’s the refugees who are the threats, right?
I may be proven wrong, but I am skeptical that terror attacks are really going to come from refugees, for many reasons, the most relevant being the relative difficulty of entering the United States as a refugee versus any other method. The facts of this latest shooting in San Bernardino seem to agree.