Schumer: Refugee pause may be necessary
© Greg Nash

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSchumer to GOP: Push back against Trump's 'alternative facts' McConnell to Dems: Work with us on GOP's 'formidable' challenges Democrats and the boycott of Trump's inauguration MORE (N.Y.), the third ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, on Tuesday said it may be necessary to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.

Republicans immediately seized on Schumer’s comment, which breaks with other Democrats who have argued against halting the program.

ADVERTISEMENT
Schumer, however, declined to take the option off the table ahead of a special briefing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon on the process that is now used to vet refugees entering the United States.

“We’re waiting for the briefing tomorrow, a pause may be necessary. We’re going to look at it,” he said.

Schumer is widely expected to become leader of Senate Democrats in the next Congress, after Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidCabinet picks boost 2018 Dems Franken emerges as liberal force in hearings GOP eyes new push to break up California court MORE (Nev.) retires.

A spokeswoman for Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanSanders set for clash with Trump’s budget pick Is healthcare law really going into a ‘death spiral’? Trump hosts Hill leaders for ice breaker MORE (R-Wis.) highlighted Schumer’s statement as an example of “bipartisan concern” over refugees.

Centrist Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinCabinet picks boost 2018 Dems Democrats expected to delay Sessions vote Overnight Cybersecurity: Dems split on Manning decision | Assange looking to make deal MORE (W.Va.) signed a letter to President Obama Monday calling on him not to allow another Syrian refugee into the country unless federal authorities can guarantee with 100-percent assurance they are not connected to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Other Democrats have rejected freezing Obama’s plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the current fiscal year.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinJustice requires higher standard than Sessions Warren burns Mnuchin over failure to disclose assets Trump Treasury pick to defend foreclosure record MORE (D-Ill.) said halting the program “is a simplistic reaction to a very complicated challenge.”

“Background checks need to be redoubled in terms of refugees but if we’re talking about threats to the United States, let’s put this in perspective,” he said.

Durbin noted that each year 70,000 refugees from around the world are resettled in the United States after two years of vetting while millions of foreign visitors enter the United States as visitors.

“Let us not just single out the refugees as the potential source of danger in the United States,” he said.  

Jordain Carney contributed.