Syrian refugee now living in Triangle says vetting process already extreme

Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Former refugee says entry process already extreme
Zubair Rushk shares his ordeal and journey to becoming an American citizen.

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- A Syrian refugee turned American citizen is expressing his concerns about President Donald Trump's calls for a stronger vetting process.

Zubair Rushk contends current measures are already extreme.

Rushk is on a full scholarship at UNC-Chapel Hill after graduating from Wake Tech, but the Syrian refugee said this moment was years in the making -- applying for refugee status after he says he was tortured in a Syrian prison for teaching children the Kurdish language, the language of his culture.

"I lose my memory and had a really very high stage of PTSD," Rushk said.

Rushk fled to Lebanon and had to undergo two years of therapy, all the while undergoing an interview process and background check with the United Nations before being referred to the International Organization for Migration.

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"I had to do a medical exam, eye screening, fingerprinting and that whole stuff," he said. "After I'm going to US Embassy, they did interview with us for seven hours. Seven hours of interview asking all the tears of questions."

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"Time it took for background check and security check -- 18 months," Rushk added.

Rushk said the process took five years, and the process to bring his wife over took three-and-half years.

"She was in a dangerous area," he said. "She was a student of agriculture engineering in Deir Ezzol which was captured by ISIS in 2013."

According to the US Department of State website the wait times vary but average from 18 to 24 months from UN referral to US arrival.

Still others say more needs to be done.

Senator Thom Tillis's office told ABC11 in a statement:

"Senator Tillis strongly believes that America should continue to be a welcoming home for refugees fleeing oppression and seeking freedom. However, the vetting of Syrian refugees has been significantly complicated by the civil war in Syria and ISIS' active attempts to infiltrate the refugee programs of Western nations. Intelligence and military leaders have expressed their concerns about potential vulnerabilities of America's vetting process, and these vulnerabilities must be addressed. It's important to remember that the security concern isn't with the refugees seeking peace and safety, but rather the terrorist organizations exploiting the generosity and compassion of America and our allies."

"Five years of process I think is morality enough," Rushk said. "It's enough, and more than enough."

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