4 things to know about vetting process for Syrian refugees, Washington state

by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:


SEATTLE - Conversations continue about Syrian refugees settling across the United States under President Obama's pledge to take in 10,000 seeking sanctuary. 

More than half of the county's state governors are concerned that terrorists might use the refugees as cover to sneak across borders. Authorities said a Syrian passport was found near one of the attackers in the wave of terror that hit Paris last week.

Twenty-seven governors say they won't allow Syrian refugees into their states despite the Refugee Act of 1980, which says governors cannot legally block refugees from settling in their communities.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslese is one of the few who is welcoming refugees to the state.

>> Syrian refugees in Wash.: Questions and answers 

Many people have taken to the KIRO 7 Facebook to say Washingtonians don't feel safe accepting Syrian refugees. Some have questioned the vetting process. KIRO 7 News offers four things to know below.

1.) The refugee resettlement process is lengthy.

There are 13 steps in all before a refugee is approved to move to America. Click here to read them.

“The background checks, the security screenings, the verification of the biographies, the DNA checks to ascertain that these people really are a family unit — all of that is done before they arrive at Sea-Tac airport," Dan Samuelson of World Relief Seattle said.

2.) It can take 18 to 24 months for a refugee to get approved.

Refugee resettlement can take up to two years, according to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

The U.S. has admitted roughly 2,500 Syrians since the civil war erupted in that country in the spring of 2011, State Department officials said. Of that number, about half are children. About 2 percent are single men of combat age. The overall pool is almost evenly split between males and females.

3.) Refugees are already in Washington, according to the local Syrian community.

Hussein Ali came here from Syria in 2011 for school, and stayed for work. Ali brought his parents here in 2013 when they began to fear for their lives.

Ali’s family was able to immigrate here legally because they’d already started the paperwork before anyone had heard of ISIS. He said the refugees coming now face far stricter scrutiny -- months of interviews and background checks, according to the U.S. State Department.

Ali says the few Syrian refugees who are already here told him about the intense and careful process.

“It’s very hard, it takes years and years, like 3-4-5 years,” he said.

4.) What about getting jobs in the U.S. and Seattle?

"The truth is a lot of immigrants and refugees are working jobs that employers often have difficulty filling, such as janitorial, food service and home care workers," the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) told KIRO 7 News. "Many immigrants and refugees are filling a growing need for caring for our increasing aging population. And many occupations that refugees end up taking are repetitive and difficult to fill."

Want to talk about the news of the day? Watch free streaming video on the KIRO 7 mobile app and iPad app, and join us here on Facebook.