Senators: ISIS fighters posing as migrants could slip into US
© Getty Images

A group of senators is pushing the Obama administration to double down on the vetting of refugees, amid plans to accept at least 10,000 Syrians into the United States. 

Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan READ: Trump administration memo on background checks NRA says Trump administration memo a 'non-starter' MORE (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoThis week: House jump-starts effort to prevent shutdown Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure America is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction MORE (R-W.Va.), Mark KirkMark Steven Kirk The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Advocates push for EpiPens on flights after college student's mid-flight allergic reaction Funding the fight against polio MORE (R-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Tech giants defend efforts against extremist content The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Miss.) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryLet's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy The Memo: Democrats struggle to find the strongest swing-state candidate 2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster MORE on Thursday.  


"We must be aware that terrorist organizations like ISIL will try and take advantage of the situation," they wrote in their letter. "Under no circumstances should your agencies sacrifice the thoroughness of the security vetting process in order to admit a certain number of refugees."

The senators in the letter ask for Johnson and Kerry to hand over their plans for how they will ensure members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) aren't able to come to the United States under the guise of being Syrian refugees. 

Their letter comes after White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the administration would accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees during the 2016 fiscal year, which starts next month. 

The senators add that they support the administration's "efforts in providing assistance" to Syrian refugees, calling the United States a "compassionate country" with a "role to play in alleviating the suffering of people caught up in this tragedy."

Their letter to the pair of top administration officials underscores the quagmire Congress faces on the Syrian refugee crisis. While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are tentatively backing accepting more refugees from the war-torn country, they're also scarce on the details and have concerns about national security.

The senators said that while the vetting process can take between 18 and 24 months — requiring the involvement of a handful of agencies including the DHS, the FBI and the Pentagon — the various background checks and investigations "should absolutely not be cut short in an effort to try and accommodate more refugees than the process can safely handle." 

Democratic Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Trump administration floats background check proposal to Senate GOP Senate confirms two Treasury nominees over Democratic objections MORE (Conn.) has called for Congress to pass an emergency spending bill that would help the State Department cover the extra costs of vetting the additional Syrian refugees.