According to White House tumblr, Google co-founder Sergey Brin's family were refugees from the Soviet Union, coming to the US when Brin was 6. Researching further,

Since 1975 more than 500,000 refugees, large numbers of whom were Jews, evangelical Christians, and Catholics from the former Soviet Union, have been resettled in the United States. (wikipedia)

How did the US ensure that no infiltrators, saboteurs or other security threats blended in with this large number of refugees from a hostile country? How successful were they?

  • 2
    That's classified, dude. – Ricky Nov 20 '15 at 6:48
  • 1
    By not letting refugees into sensitive posts? Any sensitive post would have the candidates thoroughly screened, and you could weed out refugees. I mean, even if someone was known to be a bona fide deserter, he could have family or friends left in the Eastern block that could be used to blackmail him, so a blanket veto made sense. – SJuan76 Nov 20 '15 at 12:19
  • Note that the Cold War was more about espionage that terrorism itself (although there were a few exceptions). – SJuan76 Nov 20 '15 at 12:19
  • 1
    @SJuan76 - As I mentioned in a comment below, I know first-hand that refugees from Communist countries were allowed high-level clearances. Then again, pretty much anyone getting such a clearance gets investigated fairly thoroughly, no matter what their background. – T.E.D. Nov 20 '15 at 21:31

The simple answer: they did not. I personally know many Soviet refugees. The only cases when they had to undergo any security screening were the cases when they applied for sensitive jobs, like in CIA or NSA.

  • FWIW, I worked a COMSEC job in the early 90's, which required me to have the most stringent clearance I'd ever had to get. Once I got there and started working, I discovered that at least 3 of my team (out of about 12) were former refugees from Communist countries. – T.E.D. Nov 20 '15 at 21:17

The answer is several fold:

1) Most investigation was done after the fact.

2) It was never expected not to miss some agents in the background check drag nets if you will.

3) The possible strategic information gain from defectors is greater than letting some agents through. Given security at intelligence agencies, the aforementioned agents wouldn't be able to infiltrate without much more in depth vetting anyway.

I could go on.

4) Addendum: You potentially make yourself more sympathetic to possible allies and you claim moral high ground domestically and diplomatically if you allow refugees. I'm sure some allowances were made for these reasons.

  • 1
    One "on" that really shouldn't be skipped is the propaganda value vs. the source country in accepting refugees. It kind of proves the recipient's position when the flow of people is pretty much all one way. – T.E.D. Nov 20 '15 at 21:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.