The extensive vetting process required for refugees before they step foot on U.S. soil

Posted at 6:39 AM, Feb 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-10 09:20:05-05

The number of refugees who settled in Ohio nearly doubled last year, according to statistics obtained from the U.S. State Department. Nationwide, the numbers jumped too.

In 2016, 4,857 refugees called Ohio their home. That's up from 2,898 in 2015 and 2,925 in 2014.

96,874 refugees arrived in the U.S. in 2016. That's up from 66,517 in 2015 and 72,820 in 2014.

"The misconception is that people just get on a plane and come over here," said Aleksandar Cuic, a local immigration attorney, who added that the reason for the jump in refugees has to do with the political climate at the time and the number of refugees that the U.S. is willing to take. "This is not how the process works."

Cuic explained that refugees go through an extensive vetting process before they can set foot on U.S. soil.

"FBI background checks, Interpol background checks, name checks," said Cuic. "They [refugees] are vetted probably more than other immigrant groups and classifications."

Cuic said the vetting process takes at least a year and a half for each individual. And it's conducted while the individual is still overseas.

His concerns about the process lie with the information handed over by the individual's home country, or lack thereof.

"The whole world doesn't work like the United States," Cuic said. "So people who are convicted of crimes aren't finger-printed everywhere in the world. There may not be records of these folks either."

He said certain countries don't keep police records, or their governments are bribed to keep such information hidden.

Whether that happens or how often remains a mystery.

"It is a slow, long process," he added. "Is it perfect? I would probably agree it's not a perfect system, but it's what we have."