Syrian refugees more likely fleeing terrorism, than actual terrorists themselves, UB expert says

Refugee screening process is already largely effective, says Hilary Weaver

Release Date: November 19, 2015

“The gut reaction is to say that we would be safer by excluding, but it is the other way around. We didn’t want to accept people fleeing Nazi Germany. This is not new. But we must balance our fears with our compassion.”
Hilary Weaver, professor of social work
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Halting Syrian refugees from entering the United States will fuel terrorism, not curb it, says Hilary Weaver, University at Buffalo professor of social work.

“I understand that terrorists would be interested in infiltrating and becoming refugees – a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak – but, we cannot paint everybody with the same brush,” says Weaver, who is co-director of UB’s Immigrant and Refugee Research Institute. “The gut reaction is to say that we would be safer by excluding, but it is the other way around. We didn’t want to accept people fleeing Nazi Germany. This is not new. But we must balance our fears with our compassion.”

On Thursday, the House passed a bill to stop the admission of Syrian refugees into the U.S. until they undergo a stringent vetting process in light of the Paris terror attacks.

As it stands now, says Weaver, the screening process is extensive and effective.

“I know of cases where people weren’t terrorists, but they had taken up arms against their own government and they were excluded from being refugees and deported from the U.S.,” she says. “I think the screening process works for the most part.”

Weaver says she understands that people are scared. The U.S. needs to continue to be attentive during the screening process, she added.

But preventing refugees from entering the country would be a form of racial profiling, she says.

“The worst possible thing would be to make it nearly impossible to enter the country,” Weaver says. “That will fuel terrorism because it will undermine the idea of the U.S. as a place of compassion, as a place of safety for people fleeing terrorism. It will give terrorists an opportunity to use propaganda and say, ‘See, they are excluding Muslims, they don’t like us, they are anti-Islam and anti-Arab. That fuels hatred and the hatred is fueling terrorism.”

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