House passes bill to ‘pause’ refugee flow from Syria, Iraq

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Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The House voted Thursday to approve a bill that would require a new “certified” screening process for refugees coming from Iraq and Syria but the bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate, says Minority Leader Harry Reid, and some conservatives are saying the bill doesn’t go nearly far enough in keeping America safe.

The House vote was 289-137 and included 47 Democrats, just two votes shy of enough to override a presidential veto.

“[The American SAFE Act] is simply putting a pause on the Syrian refugee program until we can be assured… they can be properly vetted and background checks can be done before they are brought in,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee. Also, we require certification by the secretary of Homeland Security, FBI director and director of national intelligence. I think this is a very measured, well-balanced bill.”

The bill was put forth in the wake of the massacre of 129 civilians in Paris less than a week ago, an atrocity carried out by eight jihadists, at least one of whom was said to have entered Europe posing as a “refugee.”

WND reported that another eight ISIS infiltrators were caught Wednesday posing as refugees at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey.

Watch McCaul’s floor speech from today:

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Two Republicans voted against the bill: Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Steve King, R-Iowa, likely because the bill doesn’t go far enough in their eyes.

Critics have said the proposed law wouldn’t stop a single Islamic refugee from entering the U.S. And there are much tougher bills sitting in committees, including Rep. Brian Babin’s HR 3314, which would stop all refugee resettlement until the Obama administration can give a full accounting of the costs and national security risks.

“Speaker Paul Ryan is trying to protect Obama’s Syrian refugee resettlement programs today by passing a bill that only ‘pauses’ the program instead of stopping it,” said William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC. “Also, Ryan’s bill is based on the false premise that refugees from Muslim countries can be adequately vetted when they can’t as Sen. Jeff Sessions is pointing out.”

ALIPAC added opposition to the Syrian refugee resettlement programs to the organization’s national platform more than a month before the Paris attacks when it became clear the program puts American lives and national security at risk.

The legislation will now go to the Senate, where it may face a tougher path to passage.

Reid, D-Nev., vowed to block the House bill if it is considered by the upper chamber after the Thanksgiving recess.

“The problem is not with refugees,” Reid told the Hill. “I don’t think we’ll be dealing with it over here.”

Reid’s statement flies in the face of reality, since attacks and attempted attacks have already happened over here.

WND has documented 21 cases over the last two years in which Muslim refugees and immigrants were involved in terrorist plots on U.S. soil.

Another report came out today verifying 66 cases of ISIS attacks of the past 18 months, most of them foiled by the FBI, including many orchestrated by former refugees.

When asked about the prospect of Obama vetoing the legislation, Reid said, “Don’t worry, it won’t get passed. Next question?”

ISIS itself has promised to infiltrate the ranks of refugees coming into the West, claiming back in February that it has 4,000 trained fighters already stationed in Europe.

WND reported earlier this week that Ryan was lining up a “meaningless show vote,” quoting a senior staffer on Capitol Hill. That’s exactly what happened, with a vote allowing Ryan and the GOP to sound tough on ISIS without providing any real teeth because the legislation still depends on the Obama administration to “certify” that every refugee is not a terrorist.

This is impossible, critics such as Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., say, because many of the refugees have clean backgrounds and become radicalized after they arrive in the U.S.

This is what happened with the Tsarnaev brothers of Boston Marathon bombing fame who came to America as asylum seekers when they were young boys.

The House vote came six days after the ISIS attack on Paris that killed 129 innocent civilians. Then came the news that at least one of the eight attackers entered Europe as a “refugee” from Syria.

Syrian passports are available on the black market in the Middle East for as little as $100. Anyone can obtain one and claim to be a Syrian refugee, WND reported earlier.

Obama is bringing 85,000 refugees from various Third World countries in fiscal 2016 followed by 100,000 in fiscal 2017. At least half of these will come from Muslim countries with jihadist movements. They will be hand-picked by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Among the more than 2,100 Syrians already resettled in U.S. cities, they are 97 percent Muslim and only 2.4 percent Christian.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the carnage, and is also a big factor in the wave of refugees from Iraq and Syria flowing into Europe.

Fears that terrorists could enter the United States through the refugee program sparked the House bill, but little has been said about the fact this has already happened. The FBI has covered up the fact many of the ISIS plotters arrested over the past two years have been Muslim immigrants or children of immigrants.

The legislation passed by the House would prevent any refugees from Syria or Iraq from entering the United States until the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Director of National Intelligence certify that none of them are dangerous.

“If our law enforcement and our intelligence community cannot verify that each and every person is not a security threat, then they shouldn’t be allowed in,” said Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“We cannot and we should not wait to act. Not when our national security is at stake,” he added, without mentioning that the legislation does not cut off funding for a single refugee.

Still, Obama has postured against the bill, engaging in a war of words with Republicans.

He argued that keeping out Syrian refugees fleeing terrorism and war in their country was an affront to American values.

The Obama administration has said the vetting process typically already takes more than a year for each refugee. But FBI Director James Comey acknowledged in a hearing last month that it’s impossible to fully vet each refugee applicant.

If the bill is blocked in the Senate, House Republicans are already looking toward a catchall government spending bill, known as an omnibus, as their best leverage to force the Obama administration’s hand.

Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said he would vote against a spending bill that doesn’t contain provisions halting the refugee program.

“I think that we have to exert maximum leverage,” Salmon told The Hill.

Those threats raise the possibility of a showdown over the issue that could lead to a government shutdown. Congress must pass legislation by Dec. 11 to keep the government open.

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