GOP senator: Accepting more refugees not ‘sound policy’

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Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) suggested Monday that the administration’s plan to increase the number of refugees accepted into the United States as a response to Syria’s civil war is “not a sound policy.”
“The U.S. has already taken in four times more immigrants than any other nation on Earth. Our foreign-born population share is set to break every known historical record,” he said Monday in a statement. “At bottom, it is not a sound policy to respond to the myriad problems in the Middle East by encouraging millions to abandon their home. Absorbing the region’s migrants is not a long-term strategy for stabilizing the region.”
{mosads}Sessions’s comments come as Secretary of State John Kerry said over the weekend that the administration would increase its annual cap on refugees to 100,000 by 2017, compared to the current annual cap of 70,000. 
Not all of those refugees would come from Syria. 
The Alabama Republican, considered one of the most conservative members in the Senate on immigration, said that 90 percent of recent Middle Eastern refugees living in the country are on food stamps, and that additional refugees would also be eligible for the benefits.
“Since we are running huge deficits, every penny of these billions in costs will have to be borrowed and added to the debt,” he added. “Our schools, job markets and public resources are already stretched too thin. And, even at current rates, we have no capacity to screen for extremist ideology, as we have seen with the surge of ISIS recruitment in Minnesota’s Somali refugee community.”
Congress and the Obama administration have been debating what it should do to aid Syrian refugees since a photo of a drowned Syrian boy went viral, sparking attention from media and lawmakers. 
While some Republican lawmakers have tentatively backed the notion that Congress should act, details on possible next steps are scarce and lawmakers are concerned about potential national security concerns. 
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have urged the administration to do more. Lawmakers sent a letter to Kerry on Monday, asking for the State Department to step up its assistance to religious minorities in Iraq. 
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, has said the administration should accept 100,000 Syrian refugees instead of 10,000, and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is calling on his colleagues to pass an emergency spending bill to help the State Department vet the uptick in refugees. 
Sessions, however, said that “Middle Eastern nations must take the lead in resettling their region’s refugees.”
“The goal of responsible refugee resettlement should be to relocate displaced persons as close to their homes as possible and to seek their return to their country of origin in more stable conditions,” he said. 
Tags Jeff Sessions John Kerry Syria Syrian civil war Syrian refugees

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