Of 745,000 Refugees Admitted Post-9/11, Only Two Were Charged With Terrorism-Related Crimes

It's unclear if the Paris attacks had anything at all do with refugees.

Syrian people in refugee camp in Suruc. These people are refugees from Kobane and escaped because of Islamic state attack. 3.4.2015, Suruc, Turkey.
Photo Credit: Procyk Radek /

In a theatrical display of bigotry, over 20 governors declared this week that they would impede the settlement of Syrian refugees in their states (something they can't actually do). 

The most remarkable fact about this paranoid behavior is that refugees have historically been perhaps the safest migrants to this country; the process by which one is granted refugee status is long and arduous, and has in the modern period not resulted in a single death from terrorism.

According to a review of the Migration Policy Institute, of the 745,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. since 9/11, two men have been charged with terrorism-related crimes (providing funds for a terrorist organization in another country, not the United States). Additionally, the Tsarnaev brothers, whose parents were refugees from Chechnya, committed the Boston bombings, though there is no evidence that they were radicalized overseas; their turn to terror was the result of a domestic radicalization process.

It's unclear if the Paris attacks now being exploited to demonize refugees even had anything to do with refugees. All of the men identified as being responsible are European Union nationals. Although a passport with refugee status was found nearby, it has confirmed to be fake—the exact same passport was found in Serbia.

We may soon regard the past few days of hysteria about refugees as we did the 2014 hysteria about Ebola—a massive threat exaggeration used for politics that leads to harmful shifts in our political dialogue.

Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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