A standing-room-only crowd packed into the Bowling Green Schools’ Professional Learning and Development Center on Friday night for a town hall on the proposed resettlement of Syrian refugees. Heated exchanges between opposing sides last two hours.
Albert Mbanfu, executive director of the International Center of Kentucky, explained the extensive screening process that takes 18-24 months before refugees are approved for resettlement in the U.S.
Mbanfu introduced Major General Allen Youngman, a Bowling Green resident and former Adjutant General of Kentucky. Youngman tried to put to rest fears of terrorism by explaining that the government’s current vetting process did not exist on September 11, 2001, the date of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The screening process, he said, has become much more stringent in the past decade.
“I would not have been able to tell you ten years ago that I had a lot of confidence in the system. We have things in place today that we didn’t have just a few years ago,” Youngman remarked. “I feel pretty good about it. Is it foolproof? No.”
Youngman said anyone wanting to harm the U.S. would likely not go through the refugee resettlement program, but instead through a student or tourist visa.