Grassley to John Kerry: Will The Administration Blow Off Congress to Increase Refugee Numbers?

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Sep 14, 2015 9:05 AM
Grassley to John Kerry: Will The Administration Blow Off Congress to Increase Refugee Numbers?

Despite serious terrorism concerns from the FBI and Homeland Security, the White House announced last week that President Obama has instructed government agencies to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States from 1500 to 10,000.

Now, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley is asking Secretary of State John Kerry not only how the government plans to screen new refugees, but how limited resources will be able to handle an overall increase. He's also expressing concerns about the administration going around Congress to bring in more refugees than approved through statute. Grassley issued a letter to Kerry as a follow up to testimony the Secretary gave on Capitol Hill last week about the ongoing refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe. 

"I wanted to follow up on some key concerns I have about our discussion, particularly the suggestion that the administration may exceed the number of refugees for Fiscal Year 2016 that was proposed to Congress and the administration’s intent to admit into the country thousands of refugees from Syria," Grassley wrote in the letter sent to Kerry late last week. "According to the report provided to us, the administration would like to increase the number of refugees who would be admitted to the United States from 70,000 to 75,000. However, after you left the consultation, I asked Assistant Secretary Richard to clarify about whether that number would be increased at some point later in the fiscal year. She admitted that there are discussions within the administration about adding to the 75,000 number after the start of the new fiscal year, and the administration could use authority reserved for 'unforeseen emergency refugee situation' to go above what it proposed to Congress in this week’s consultation. The statute, however, requires that an additional consultation with Congress take place if the President plans to increase the number based on an emergency refugee situation."

"Before agreeing to accept thousands of Syrian refugees, the Obama administration must prove to the American people that it will take the necessary precautions to ensure that national security is a top priority, especially at a time when ruthless terrorist groups like ISIS are committed to finding ways to enter the United States and harm Americans. As reported by the Washington Times yesterday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper publicly stated at a U.S. intelligence community conference this week that the “Islamic State’s ability to infiltrate waves of Syrian war refugees flowing into Europe and potentially the United States” is a “huge concern” to the intelligence community," Grassley continued. "This concern is not merely hypothetical. In fact, past efforts to bring war refugees from the Middle East into the United States have allowed terrorists to enter our country...I have concerns about the administration once again abusing its authority to bypass the refugee process and parole individuals from Syria into the country." 

Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Michael McCaul has also repeatedly expressed grave concerns about the  administration's decision to increase the number of refugees coming from terrorism hot spots.

“The President wants to surge thousands of Syrian refugees into the United States, in spite of consistent intelligence community and federal law enforcement warnings that we do not have the intelligence needed to vet individuals from the conflict zone. We also know that ISIS wants to use refugee routes as cover to sneak operatives into the West. I implore the President to consult with Congress before taking any drastic action and to level with the American people about the very real security challenges we face," McCaul released in a statement. "It is heart-wrenching to watch innocent Syrians fleeing the violence in their country, and we can do more to help. But the best way to solve this crisis is at the source. The President needs to develop a real strategy for victory to defeat ISIS and remove Assad from power, which is the root cause of the problem. This is the culmination of a failed foreign policy to deal with the threats and now we have a humanitarian crisis on our hands.”

The White House hasn't released any details about how refugees will be vetted to ensure terrorism isn't imported onto American soil.