News stories are now suggesting that the Minnesota stabber Dahir Adan entered the United States as a Somali refugee when he was 2 years old. Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspected bomber in New York and New Jersey, entered as an Afghan asylum-seeker with his parents when he was 7 years old. The asylum and refugee systems are the bedrocks of the humanitarian immigration system and they are under intense scrutiny already because of fears over Syrian refugees.
The vetting procedure for refugees, especially Syrians, is necessarily intense because they are overseas while they are being processed. The security protocols have been updated and expanded for them. This security screening should be intense. The process for vetting asylum-seekers, who show up at American ports of entry and ask for asylum based on numerous criteria, is different. Regardless, no vetting system will prevent or detect child asylum-seekers or child refugees from growing up and becoming terrorists any more than a child screening program for U.S.-born children will be able to prevent or detect those among us will grow up to be a terrorist.
Adan and Rahami didn’t manage to murder anyone due to their incompetence, poor planning, potential mental health issues, luck, armed Americans, and the quick responses by law enforcement. Regardless, some may want to stop all refugees and asylum seekers unless they are 100 percent guaranteed not to be terrorists or to ever become terrorists. Others are more explicit in their calls for a moratorium on all immigration due to terrorism. These folks should know that the precautionary principle is an inappropriate standard for virtually every area of public policy, even refugee screening.