A new report on the Syrian refugee resettlement program reveals that the United Nations -- not U.S. officials -- initially pick and choose who can move to the United States and even become an American citizen.
What's more, the vetting system used by the U.S.-funded United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is wide open to rampant fraud, raising the specter that potential terrorists could buy their way into the United States, according to the analysis from the Center for Immigration Studies.
The report focused on a little-known path to how refugees get into America: The United Nations makes the first pick, not the State Department.
Under the system, the UNHCR considers those seeking to come to America before turning that list over to the United States to consider.
"Out of the four million-plus registered Syrian refugees in the region, UNHCR has so far submitted 22,427 cases to the United States for resettlement consideration. Of those, about 2,000 were accepted last year. The United States is welcoming Syrian refugees only from the 22,427 who made it through UNHCR referrals," said the report from senior analyst Nayla Rush.
The report raised two huge issues. First, it found that the U.N. system is simply overloaded. Just consider this: Since there are over 4 million refugees and and 2,038 UNHCR staffers, each interviewer is responsible for vetting 2,100-2,800 refugees each.
And insiders have fretted about various types of fraud, where people can lie or pay their way through the U.N. system.
"In summary, Americans are asked today to welcome Syrian refugees without hesitation and have total faith in the refugee resettlement program. They are asked to give the benefit of the doubt to UNHCR staff in tormented countries, and to trust their own government officials with their national security — officials who are delegating parts of their screening responsibilities overseas to the UNHCR," said the report.
"The UNHCR is deciding not only who can move to the United States, it is also choosing who gets a chance to become American and who doesn't. Given such high stakes, Americans should be encouraged to question this opaque system," it concluded.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.