The Obama administration has repeatedly stated its commitment to welcoming 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States as part of a global response to the turmoil in the Middle East. Congressional Republicans have long questioned the proposal, and now a coalition of GOP senators plans to introduce legislation that would all but freeze the flow of refugees into the country until security measures are strengthened.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
According to a bill by Illinois Republican Mark Kirk, no refugees would be allowed to enter the country until the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence all agree on a vetting process. A procedure would have to be implemented that would prove that no incoming refugee poses a national security risk or has supported a terrorist organization.
The three groups would also be required to clarify the specific measures that they would take in order to enhance the security of its screening process, even going as far as to check their social media accounts. Kirk referenced the 2009 case of the two Iraqi refugees that were allowed into the United States even though it was later discovered that they held al-Qaeda sympathies.
Another facet of the legislation would compel the DHS inspector general and the comptroller general to both review the vetting process and present their findings to Congress. The DHS would also maintain data on how many refugees attempt to gain entry into the United States and how many certifications are granted in order to keep Congress informed.
So far, five Republican have endorsed the legislation, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated that he would progress on refugee-related legislation in the first quarter of next year. Kirk, who faces a difficult reelection against Rep. Tammy Duckworth, has campaigned on his dedication to mitigating the chance of dangerous radical elements gaining entry into the country.