Senators: ISIS fighters posing as migrants could slip into US
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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) ManchinOn The Money: Democrats deals to bolster support for relief bill | Biden tries to keep Democrats together | Retailers fear a return of the mask wars Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Progressives grumble but won't sink relief bill over fewer stimulus checks MORE (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden's unity effort falters Capito asks White House to allow toxic chemicals rule to proceed MORE (R-W.Va.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 Senate Republicans scramble to put Trump at arm's length MORE (R-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March MORE (R-Miss.) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change Biden, Brazil and the Amazon MORE on Thursday.  

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"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 MurphyBiden reignites war powers fight with Syria strike Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress Democrats reintroduce gun sale background check legislation 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.