Lawmaker slams Obama's 'bait and switch' on Syrian refugees

Lawmaker slams Obama's 'bait and switch' on Syrian refugees
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Rep. Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWhitefish stops work on Puerto Rico power grid over payment dispute Five things to know about the elephant trophies controversy Feinstein: 'Disgusting' Trump even considering lifting elephant trophy ban MORE (R-Mont.) on Thursday slammed the Obama administration for using "bait-and-switch" tactics to expedite the processing of Syrian refugees to the U.S., a day after the first refugees arrived in Kansas City as part of a new surge program.

"President Obama has once again misled the American people and members of Congress in order to get his way. Obama and his Democrat allies in Congress have proven they will use bait-and-switch tactics to move more unvetted refugees into our communities. This will inevitably put our nation and our citizens at risk for future terrorist attacks," said Zinke, a combat veteran. 

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Administration officials have insisted that refugee processing would take 18 to 24 months, but the new surge program could minimize the waiting time to just three months. 

President Obama last year set a target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. by Sept. 30, but so far the process has lagged far behind. 

The administration opened a new resettlement center in Amman, Jordan, to help meet the goal, interviewing about 600 people every day, according to The Associated Press. 

Gina Kassem, the regional refugee coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, said the 10,000 figure "is a floor and not a ceiling, and it is possible to increase the number," according to AP. 

The temporary processing center will run until April 28, AP reported. 

Zinke expressed concern that ISIS members could infiltrate and attack the U.S., as appeared to be the case in the Paris terrorist attacks last year, and called for the surge center to be shut down. 

"We have seen dozens of innocent civilians murdered at the hands of terrorists posing as refugees," Zinke said. "It is unfathomable to most Americans how any sort of expedited screening benefits our national security. President Obama must immediately stop his surge operation and properly screen these individuals before we experience a Paris or Brussels-style attack."

Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL commander, proposed the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act to pause and strengthen the refugee screening process. 

"While the majority of individuals need assistance, it only takes a few to create mass casualties. That is exactly why I believe the U.S. should focus humanitarian efforts in the region where folks are closer to home, and why the U.S. needs a real strategy to finally defeat and destroy ISIS," he said. 

Jordan hosts about 635,000 of the more than 4.7 million Syrians who have registered with the United Nations after fleeing the Syrian civil war.