Data wins

Show this chart to everyone who’s scared of allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S.

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The above chart is not a misprint.

It’s an accurate graphical representation of the number of refugees resettled in the United States since September 11, 2001 who have been arrested on domestic terrorism charges:

Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Over the last three days, as the world has reeled from the terrorist attacks in Paris, many U.S. politicians have called for measures to prevent Syrian refugees from being given asylum in America. More than twenty governors have refused to allow Syrian refugees in their state, their stated rationale being that refugees are more likely to harbor extremist tendencies than legal immigrants or natural-born citizens, or that violent extremists will pose as refugees in order to gain entry to the U.S.

“As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” said Alabama governor Robert Bentley, one of the many governors to give such statements on Monday.

But the data shows that fears about refugees carrying out terrorist attacks are gravely misplaced. As The Economist reports, of the nearly 750,000 refugees who have taken up residence in the U.S. since 9/11, none have been arrested on charges of domestic terrorism. According to the Migration Policy Institute, only three refugees in the U.S.—a pair of Iraqi refugees in Kentucky who were charged with assisting al-Qaeda in Iraq, and an Uzbek refugee with ties to an Islamist organization in Uzbekistan—have been arrested on any kind of terrorism charge.

In fact, the data show that most violent extremists in the U.S. are actually natural-born citizens. And the U.S. already takes extreme precaution when screening refugees for settlement. As the Migration Policy Institute puts it:

[The] refugee resettlement program is the least likely avenue for a terrorist to choose. Refugees who are selected for resettlement to the United States go through a painstaking, many-layered review before they are accepted. The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and national intelligence agencies independently check refugees’ biometric data against security databases. The whole process typically takes 18-24 months, with high hurdles for security clearance.

American opposition to allowing Syrian refugees in the U.S. also ignores the fact that most Syrian refugees are trying to escape the kind of violence that ISIS’s rise has enabled. These aren’t extremist sympathizers—they’re people who have been driven from their country by extremists.

Despite state opposition, the U.S. still plans to accept approximately 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next fiscal year. So if your governor, or another elected official in your state needs a reminder of why accepting Syrian refugees isn’t an invitation to terrorism—but rather a humanitarian gesture to citizens of a country that has been torn apart by extremist violence—you can feel free to send them the chart above.

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