White House defends vetting process for Syrian refugees
© Greg Nash
The White House on Monday defended the Obama administration's decision and vetting process for admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States.
"This administration did succeed in meeting this goal: a significant ramping up of the number of Syrian refugees to the United States. And we were able to do all of that without cutting any corners when it comes to security," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday.
"And significant screening was put in place to ensure that these individuals don't pose an undue threat to our national security."
The Obama administration will hit its goal of bringing in 10,000 Syrian refugees on Monday, clearing the self-imposed benchmark more than a month before its deadline.
The milestone comes amid heightened opposition to allowing Syrian refugees into the country from congressional Republicans and Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE.
Earnest defended the administration's vetting process on Monday when asked how the administration would reassure people concerned that a potentially radicalized person could get into the country. The reporter who asked the question used the term "extreme vetting."
"I think that was a term that might have been used by somebody who doesn't currently work in the U.S. government," Earnest responded.
"I'll stop there."
In an Aug. 15 speech, Trump proposed creating a system of  “extreme vetting” to ensure that the country allows in only "those who share our values and respect our people."
On Monday, Earnest said the vetting process typically takes "quite a bit of time."
"Essentially what the Obama administration was able to do was to mobilize resources both within the intelligence community, within the Department of Homeland Security, to do things like deploy more officers to conduct interviews," Earnest said.
"This vetting of refugee applicants involves collecting biometric info, doing in-person interviews, doing background checks, running their info through a variety of national security and international databases."
That process requires personnel and expertise, Earnest said.
"And President Obama made this a priority," he said.
"When the president made this commitment, he made clear that we weren't going to cut corners when it comes to security and that in order to meet this higher threshold, it was going to require not shortchanging the security steps but actually increasing the resources that are being deployed to our security," he continued.
"And that's exactly what we've done. The president is gratified that even in the face of a lot of doubt, this was a goal that was met a month ahead of schedule."
Earnest also said he thinks the president would like to see the country expand its "ambition."