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Tags: refugees | syria | jihadists | michael mccaul | terrorists

US to Take In Thousands of Syrian Refugees

US to Take In Thousands of Syrian Refugees
(Sedat Suna/EPA/Landov)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 February 2015 11:19 AM EST

The United States is expected to quadruple the number of Syrian refugees it will admit into the country this year or next, as part of refugee program set up by the Obama administration.

"The United States has admitted 524 Syrians since 2011. We’re likely to admit 1,000 to 2,000 Syrian refugees for permanent resettlement in Fiscal Year 2015 and a somewhat higher number, though still in the low thousands, in Fiscal Year 2016," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday, CNSNews is reporting.

However, there is a concern among Republicans in the House that these Syrian refugees will merely become a "a federally funded jihadi pipeline" for Islamic State (ISIS) operatives to take advantage of, said Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, who is also chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Psaki said that when it comes to refugees, national security "is absolutely a priority," which is one of the reasons "why the process can take months, if not longer."

The United States plans to admit 70,000 refugees in total during fiscal year 2015, which for the federal government began in October and runs through September.

"We have a lot of experience with this with Afghanistan, with Iraq, with Somalia, and other places where the United States has taken refugees from," Psaki said.

"Refugees are the most carefully vetted of all travelers to the United States," she added.

According to the State Department spokeswoman, "every refugee under consideration for admission to the United States undergoes the same intensive security screening involving multiple federal intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies.

"This process includes a lengthy overseas in-person refugee determination and security screening interview conducted by ... specially trained DHS officers," she said.

Psaki said that there are only "two incidents," in which "two Iraqis" who were connected with al-Qaida in Iraq were brought to Kentucky and were allegedly caught trying to send weapons and money to the terrorist group.

After that incident, Psaki said that the State Department included "additional measures [which] were activated as a result of evidence that came in" about those two Iraqis, which "are now applied to all refugees."

McCaul said during a Feb. 11 Homeland Security Committee hearing that he sent a letter to National Security Adviser Susan Rice addressing concerns he has about the Syrian refugees.

"I've been over there and I've seen them. Yeah, most of them are women and children, but there are male actors that concern me," the Texas Republican said.

"I think this would be a huge mistake if we bring in these (refugees) into the United States that could potentially be radicalized … We're not only trying to keep these guys, the foreign fighters, out, but under this would be a — a federally sanctioned welcome party, if you will, to potential terrorists in the United States," he said.

Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told the committee that while there is a rigorous vetting process that refugees must undergo, that the refugees from Syria are "clearly a population of concern."

Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told the committee that the concern with the Syrian refugees is a lack of intelligence and information to do a proper vetting.

"The difference is, in Iraq, we were there on the ground collecting, so we had databases to use," Steinbach said.

"The concern is in Syria, the lack of our footprint on the ground in Syria, that the databases won't have the information we need," he said. "You are talking about a country that is a failed state, that does not have any infrastructure so to speak." 

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The United States is expected to quadruple the number of Syrian refugees it will admit into the country this year or next, as part of refugee program set up by the Obama administration.
refugees, syria, jihadists, michael mccaul, terrorists
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 11:19 AM
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