Trump's next immigration challenge may be beyond the northern border
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According to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the United States has an exceptional history of welcoming refugees.  

Since 1975, it has welcomed more than three million refugees for resettlement from all over the world.  Nevertheless, despite the efforts of the United States and 29 other countries that accept refugees for resettlement, less than one percent of the world’s 21.3 million refugees are resettled.  


The United States conducts its own vetting process to decide which refugees it will accept, and this is in addition to the screening UNHCR does on the refugees.  The entire process is conducted abroad.  It can take up to two years to complete, but the processing time has been severely reduced on at least one occasion.  


The United States reduced the processing time to three months last year to meet President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTop nuclear policy appointee removed from Pentagon post: report Prosecutors face legal challenges over obstruction charge in Capitol riot cases Biden makes early gains eroding Trump's environmental legacy MORE’s goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees here by September 30.   

And the value of security screening depends on the availability of information from a refugee’s country.  

The threat of terrorism has caused many people to become suspicious of the refugees.  In the minds of many Europeans, for instance, the current refugee crisis and the terrorism in the European Union are very much related to one another.

President Donald Trump is trying to make the U.S. refugee program safer by improving the screening process, but not everyone agrees with the way he is doing it.  Some of his policies have been challenged in court.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for one, has expressed public disapproval of President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE’s decision to suspend the admission of Syrian refugees.

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13769, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”  Section 5(c) of the order suspends the entry of Syrian refugees:

“(c) Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.”

Why Syria?  Syria has been on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list since December 29, 1979.  Countries are put on this list when the State Department has determined that they have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.

According to the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2016, “Syria is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.”

The day after President Trump issued his Executive Order, Prime Minister Trudeau proclaimed his country's open-door policy on refugees regardless of their faith in an obvious attempt to suggest that President Trump is engaging in religious discrimination, which is a misrepresentation of the Executive Order.

Canada has been particularly open to Syrian refugees.  It welcomed more than 25,000 Syrian refugees between November 4, 2015, and February 29, 2016.  A total of 40,081 Syrian refugees have been admitted to Canada as of January 29, 2017.

President Trump was asked at his recent press conference with Prime Minister Trudeau if he is confident that America’s northern border is secure.  He replied, “Can never be totally confident.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the length of the International Boundary line on the U.S.-Canadian border, excluding Alaska, is approximately 3,987 miles (land and water).  The length of the Alaska-Canada border adds 1,538 miles, making the total length of the U.S. border with Canada 5,525 miles. This is almost three times the length of the U.S.-Mexican border, which is only 1,933 miles (land and water).  

Yet, according to Dean Mandel, a Border Patrol Agent who testified at a Senate Hearing, in February of 2016, of the 21,000 Agents in the Border Patrol, only 2,100 were assigned to the Northern border.  

On the Southern border, we had one Agent for every linear mile, and they were made more effective by the entire infrastructure of fencing, cameras, air support, and sensors.  On the Northern border, we only had one agent for every 13.5 miles and they had much less of this infrastructure.

Moreover, it will not be long before many of the 40,081 Syrian refugees are eligible for Canadian citizenship, and Canadian citizens do not have to have visas to enter the United States.

The United States government has paid much less attention to securing the Canadian border than it has to securing the border with Mexico.  Canada’s acceptance of more than 40,000 Syrian refugees could be a catalyst to changing that policy.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years; he subsequently served as the immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. He also has been a policy advisor for the DHS Office of Information Sharing and Collaboration under a contract with TKC Communications, and he has been in private practice as an immigration lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson.

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.