The House overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday imposing newrules on the intake of refugees from Syria and Iraq, but it ignoreskey concerns aboutÂ President Barack Obama’srefugee plan.
The bill willÂ require the directors of the FBI,Department of Homeland Security and national intelligence toconfirm to Congress that eachÂ applicant admitted fromSyria and Iraq poses no threat to the UnitedStates.Â The bill passed 289-137 with the support of 47Democrats.
Obama promises to veto the bill should it make it to his desk,saying the demands are “untenable,”willÂ not strengthen the vetting process andwillÂ only waste resources. Scores of Republicans alsoobject to the bill in its currentÂ form, saying itignores key problems. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said in astatement the bill “fails to defend the interests of theAmerican people.”
Newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan blocked all amendments tothe bill, including a popular amendment from Republican Rep. BrianBabin to definitively pause the entire resettlement program untilvulnerabilities in the vetting process areaddressed.Â (RELATED: Five Of The Paris Attackers Could HaveFlown To U.S. Without Restrictions)
Here are some of the key concerns not addressed in the bill:
It’s clearly not possible for the Obama administration toguarantee every refugee from Syria and Iraq is not a threat andofficials have testified to this fact under oath. Federal officialsdon’t have access to a government database in Syria andgenerally cannot verify individual’s identities on theground.
Applicants are flagged only if they’re already in the U.S.system, but that system is limited by the lack of a ground presencein Syria and Iraq. And U.S. officials can hardly be expected topredict who may already be or will become radicalized. Anadministration official was blunt in a recent hearing: “Wecan’t predict the future.”Â (RELATED: FBI Director: It’s‘Impossible’ To Vet Every Single SyrianRefugee)
The legislation ignores the fact that refugees, immigrants andnaturalized citizens from countries other than Syria and Iraq havebeen arrested in the U.S. on terror related charges. Peopleoriginating from Cuba, Somalia, Ghana, Pakistan and other countrieshave been arrested in recent years for plotting to help terrorgroups including Islamic State. (RELATED: Many U.S. ‘CitizenTerrorists’ Are Also Legal Immigrants)
The bill also does not put a numerical limit on the number ofrefugees the Obama administration can admit from Iraq, Syria, orany other country. Recent polls findÂ most Americanswant the Syrian refugee resettlement plan halted immediately andstrongly support the idea of not accepting any refugees for thetime being.
The Obama administration plans to accept an extra 45,000refugees in the next two years, including a minimum of 10,000Syrian refugees, which willÂ result in a total of200,000 refugees.
Obama’s plan will require additional funding, which theHouse bill doesÂ nothing to address. Resettling theadditional refugees will cost billions of dollars in welfare,education and entitlement costs. A recent analysis of government data found morethan 90 percent of Middle Eastern refugees are on food stamps andmore than 70 percent receive free healthcare.
The Center for Immigration Studies estimates the cost ofresettling one refugee in the U.S. for five years is about $64,000— the same as the cost of resettling 12 refugees in theMiddle East. And the moneyÂ it willÂ cost toresettle about 39,000 Syrian refugees in the UnitedStatesÂ is enough to erase a $2.5 billion funding gapthe U.N. Human Rights Commission says it needs to care for aboutfour million Syrian refugees in the Middle East.