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The House has again made much ado over nothing, you would think that these folks would look into existing rules for refugees before making new ones that shadow or negate existing ones. The new bill is listed below first then the existing one below it under Politics. This is just another item to think about when it is time for reelection . This is another “business as usual moment.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan holds up statements from the FBI director and the secretary of Homeland Security about the risk involved in admitting refugees from Syria, during a news conference Wednesday about the House bill calling for a stricter vetting process for refugees from Syria and Iraq.

Gary Cameron/Reuters/Landov

The House of Representatives has easily passed a GOP-authored bill to restrict the admission of Iraqi and Syrian refugees to America by requiring extra security procedures.

The bill — called the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015, or the American SAFE Act of 2015 — would require the secretary of Homeland Security, the head of the FBI and the director of national intelligence to sign off on every individual refugee from Iraq and Syria, affirming he or she is not a threat.

The FBI director would also need to confirm that a background investigation, separate from the Homeland Security screening, had been conducted on each refugee.

Lawmakers say it is the first of many bills aimed at addressing security concerns in the wake of the Paris attacks, reports NPR’s Muthoni Muturi.

Supporters of the bill say it would require a “pause” in admitting Syrian and Iraqi refugees, as current applications would be halted while a new vetting process was established. Some conservative critics object that it doesn’t ban such refugees outright.

Meanwhile, liberal House members say requiring top officials to be involved in thousands of individual applications is unmanageable, and that the bill would result in an extended roadblock for Syrians and Iraqis fleeing a humanitarian crisis. That’s a rejection of American values, some Democrats argue.

The bill passed the House of Representatives 289-137.

It’s unclear whether the Senate will take up the legislation, says NPR’s Arnie Seipel. If the bill does pass through Congress, President Obama has pledged to veto it. But if the House were voting on a veto override, they’d need no more than 290 votes — just one more than they had Thursday — to overrule the president.

The administration says the bill would introduce “unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”

It would also undermine allies and partners in the Middle East and Europe, the administration says.

Obama argues that the existing vetting process — which includes fingerprinting, examination of personal history and interviews — is sufficient, and the certification requirement the Republicans are calling for would “provide no meaningful additional security.”

The Obama administration has recently begun disclosing details about how Syrian refugees are currently screened. As we reported Tuesday, the process includes multiple agencies and lasts up to two years.

One challenge is that the Syrian government does not cooperate with the U.S., making it difficult to verify some Syrian documents, The Associated Press reports. But the administration says Syrian refugees provide extensive amounts of information for investigators to use.

The U.S. has taken in about 2,500 Syrian refugees since 2011, according to the AP, and the Obama administration has announced a plan to accept 10,000 more in the coming year. The White House says half of the refugees admitted to the U.S. are children, and about a quarter are older than 60.

 

With the news that one of the Paris attackers may have entered Europe posing as a refugee from Syria, more than half of American governors are now objecting to Syrian refugees being resettled in their states. On Tuesday, White House officials hosted a call with 34 governors to better explain current security screening measures. And this week, some members of Congress have called on the Obama administration to stop or at least pause the resettlement program until refugees can be properly vetted. Here are four things you should know about the current vetting process and concerns over security:

1. Refugees are screened by several different agencies.

Their first point of a refugee’s contact is with the U.N. High Commission for Refugees. The UNHCR refers people to countries based on whether they have any family members there and where resettlement makes the most sense, say U.S. officials. If that’s the U.S., then refugees are vetted by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, and the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security. Fingerprints are taken, biographical information is collected. They are then each individually interviewed by U.S. officials trained to verify that they’re bona fide refugees.

Refugees from Syria are then subject to additional screening that looks at where they came from and what caused them to flee their home, stories that are checked out. All of this occurs before a refugee is allowed to set foot in the country.

2. It’s a lengthy process.

As you might imagine, all of the vetting, from interviews to fingerprinting, takes a while. On average, officials say it’s 18 to 24 months before a refugee is approved for admission to the U.S.

The U.S. has admitted some 1,800 Syrian refugees in the past two years, and President Obama wants to allow 10,000 more. The administration says half of those who have been admitted are children and about a quarter of them are adults over 60. Officials say 2 percent are single males of combat age.

3. Physical resettlement.

There are nine different nonprofit groups, six of them faith-based, that help refugees settle in the U.S. Volunteers with the groups help refugees find homes, furniture, school supplies and jobs.

4. Objections of governors and members of Congress.

Some officials, including FBI Director James Comey, worry there are what Comey has called “gaps” in the vetting process. Experts say U.S. intelligence in Syria isn’t very good, because the U.S. lacks much of a presence on the ground. So there’s no way to compile a thorough watch list of possible terrorists from Syria against which refugees can be checked. Administration officials are briefing governors and members of Congress about the process, but lawmakers may try to pass legislation calling on the administration to suspend its refugee resettlement

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