Myths and Facts: Resettling Syrian Refugees

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 25, 2015


Myth: All Syrian refugees are dangerous.

Fact: 2,234 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the United States since October 1, 2010 (the beginning of fiscal year 2011), and only after the most extensive level of security screening of any category of traveler to the United States. None have been arrested or removed on terrorism charges.

Refugees are not terrorists. Many refugees are victims of terrorists.

Myth: 70% of the Syrian refugees coming to the United States are young, single, adult men.

Fact: Single men unattached to families comprise less than 2% of all Syrian refugee admissions to date.

Last fiscal year, 1,682 Syrian refugees were admitted. Roughly 77% of them were women and children. Only 23% were adult men.

Myth: 250,000 Syrians are arriving in the United States imminently.

Fact: This is false. Since the conflict in Syria began in Fiscal Year 2011, the United States has admitted just over 2,200 Syrian refugees. In Fiscal Year 2016, the Administration remains committed to its goal of resettling at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States.

Myth: Syrian refugees receive insufficient security vetting.

Fact: All refugees of all nationalities considered for admission to the United States undergo a rigorous security screening involving multiple federal intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies, such as the National Counterterrorism Center, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Departments of Homeland Security, State and Defense, in order to ensure that those admitted are not known to pose a threat to our country. The safeguards include biometric (fingerprint) and biographic checks, and an interview by specially trained DHS officers who scrutinize the applicant’s explanation of individual circumstances to ensure the applicant is a bona fide refugee and is not known to present any security concerns to the United States. Mindful of the particular conditions of the Syria crisis, Syrian refugees go through an enhanced level of review.

*All data current as of November 18, 2015.

Myth:   It’s impossible to thoroughly vet Syrians, given the ongoing conflict.

Fact:  We have, for years, safely admitted smaller numbers of Syrian refugees and we have a great deal of experience screening and admitting larger numbers of refugees from other chaotic environments, including where intelligence holdings are limited. Syrian refugees go through an additional layer of security screening tailored to the particular conditions of the Syrian crisis, the classified details of which have been shared with the U.S. Congress, and we continue to examine options for further enhancements for screening Syrian refugees.

For further information, please contact the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration at PRMPress@state.gov or visit //2009-2017.state.gov/j/prm/.