“To turn them away and say there is no way you can ever get here would play right into the terrorists’ hands,” Biden said in the White House’s weekly address Saturday.
“They want us to manufacture a clash between civilizations,” the vice president added. “They want frightened people to think in terms of ‘us versus them.’ ”
He said terrorists “win” by getting Americans to turn against ideals like “freedom, openness [and] tolerance.”
Biden also tried to assure the American people that any Syrian refugees potentially entering the country would be thoroughly vetted.
“Refugees face the most rigorous screening of anyone who comes to the United States,” Biden said. “First they are fingerprinted, then they undergo a thorough background check, then they are interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security.”
The vice president said refugees have to wait 18 to 24 months while the screening process is taking place before they are admitted to the country.
“And unlike in Europe, refugees don’t set foot in the United States until they are thoroughly vetted,” he said.
The vice president appealed to the emotion of the American people, pointing out that the “vast majority of these refugees are women, children, orphans, survivors of torture, people desperately in need of medical help.”
The House voted by a 289-137 margin Thursday to pass the SAFE Act, which would add new security and screening requirements on refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.