10 Misconceptions About U.S. Immigration

Terrorists Will Enter the U.S. Through Its Refugee Program
Refugees from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan enter Greece on Dec. 3, 2015. Some fear that refugees from these and other countries could enter the U.S. as terrorists, but the American refugee program has an extensive vetting process. Besar Ademi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

After the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130, many Americans are leery of not just immigrants, but those coming into the country as refugees. After all, two of the terrorists are believed to have entered France via Greece, and may have posed as Syrian refugees [source: BBC News]. It's a good reason to clamp down on immigration, right?

Taking a closer look at that tragedy, though, reveals that the three gunmen who stormed the Bataclan music venue were all French nationals. Several of the other attackers were tagged as French and Belgian citizens [source: BBC News]. Whether or not one of the other Paris terrorists posed as a refugee in order to enter the country, that tactic is not one likely to be used by terrorists hoping to infiltrate the U.S.

Before a refugee can enter the U.S., he or she has to go through a vetting process via the United Nations that takes a minimum of 18 to 24 months. The vetting process includes background checks, several interviews, retinal scans and fingerprinting. After that, the U.S. conducts additional screening measures. Why would a terrorist go through all of that when he could instead apply for a tourist visa, a much less intensive and time-consuming process? Further, if a terrorist hails from one of 38 countries such as France, Belgium, Greece and Chile, he can enter the U.S. without a visa. All that's needed is a plane ticket [sources: Diamond, U.S. Department of State].