The Obama administration is reportedly forging ahead with a “dangerously flawed” plan to expedite the vetting of an expected 10,000 Syrian refugees this year, paring down the usual 18-24 month process to just three months.
The Washington Free Beacon reports security-conscious lawmakers wary that current vetting procedures aren’t enough to handle the influx are pressing the administration to rethink the plan.
“We know the 18- to 24-month vetting process for Syrian refugees has severe vulnerabilities after FBI Director James Comey warned about the federal government’s inability to thoroughly screen Syrian refugee applicants for terrorism risk — and after the Department of Homeland Security’s investigative arm warned about ISIS’s capability to print fake Syrian passports for terrorist infiltration,” Illinois GOP Sen. Mark Kirk tells the Free Beacon.
“Given that the administration has not explained to the American people whether and how it fixed these and other known vulnerabilities to terrorist infiltration, it is highly irresponsible for the administration to reduce the 18- to 24-month vetting process for Syrian refugees down to three months to meet its artificial and ideologically-driven goal of bringing 10,000 Syrian refugees onto U.S. soil by September.”
The “Defend America Act” aims to enhance screening measures to prevent terrorists from taking advantage of the refugee program.
Still, the State Department says it’s safe.
“The United States remains committed to the president’s plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees and 85,000 refugees overall to the United States in fiscal year 2016,” an unnamed official tells the Free Beacon.
“This projected increase in arrivals from around the world, from 70,000 in each of the last three fiscal years, will not curtail any aspects of the process, including its robust security screening.”
“As we have said, neither this program nor any of our efforts to expand processing capacity curtail any aspects of the security, medical, or other screening,” the official added.
But the Free Beacon reports the State Department and Homeland Security are also working together to increase their capacity to vet refugee applicants from Jordan as well.
“From February through April, additional staff were posted to Jordan, where they conducted interviews of over 12,000 [U.N.]-referred refugee applicants,” the official tells the Free Beacon.
“All applicants are still subject to the same stringent security and medical requirements that apply to all applicants for U.S. refugee resettlement.”