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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 Manchin (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday.  

{mosads}”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 Murphy (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.  

Tags Chris Murphy Joe Manchin John Kerry Mark Kirk Roger Wicker Shelley Moore Capito

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