U.S. security fears led to Syrian refugee case slowdown in Canada

The bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister's Office ordered a security review of Syrian refugee cases this summer as a result of intelligence reports in the U.S. suggesting refugees could pose a threat to that country.

OTTAWA — The bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister’s Office ordered a security review of Syrian refugee cases this summer as a result of intelligence reports in the U.S. suggesting refugees could pose a threat to that country.

The Canadian Press has learned the June audit was carried out only on government-assisted refugee cases — those already in Canada and those still in the queue, forcing a halt to case processing for several weeks.

No concerns were ultimately found and the process was restarted — the processing of privately sponsored files was never impacted.

Republican lawmakers in the U.S. have been arguing for months that opening the door to thousands more refugees would be akin to having a welcome party for Islamic militant terrorists.

At a congressional hearing in February, both the FBI and the director of the American National Counterterrorism Center acknowledged there could be a risk, with the FBI suggesting there wasn’t enough information available on the ground in Syria to properly vet cases.

And in June, a U.S. researcher reminded Congress that two failed terrorists attacks against the U.S. were organized by people who’d sought refugee status in Canada first.