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) ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate Republicans root for Sanders nomination in battle for House Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills MORE (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoTrump hammers Manchin over impeachment vote Senate drama surrounding Trump trial starts to fizzle Democrat Richard Ojeda announces Senate bid after dropping out of presidential race MORE (R-W.Va.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Biden campaign releases video to explain 'what really happened in Ukraine' Why Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry MORE (R-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders repeats with NH primary win, but with narrower victory Senators press NCAA on compensation for college athletes Overnight Defense: Inside Trump's 4B Pentagon budget | Highlights include .4B for Space Force, preview of Air Force One paint job | Senate eyes Wednesday debate on Iran war powers | 109 US troops diagnosed with brain injuries from attack MORE (R-Miss.) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryDemocratic insiders stay on the sidelines in 2020 race 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents John Kerry: Democratic debate 'was something of a food fight' 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 MurphyLawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response Schumer: Trump coronavirus response marked by 'towering and dangerous incompetence' The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday 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.