McCain: Focus on refugees ‘misplaced’
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned his fellow Republicans on Wednesday not to place too much emphasis on Syrian refugees following the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, calling their focus misguided.
“I believe the overwhelming focus on the refugee program in recent days is misplaced,” said McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a written statement. “I especially encourage my fellow Republicans to recognize that refugees are not the problem — they are the symptom of the problem.”
Since attacks credited to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) killed at least 129 people on Friday, Republicans have called for pausing — or in some cases stopping altogether — the admission of Syrian refugees into the U.S.
The House is scheduled to vote on a bill Thursday that would prevent any refugees from Syria or Iraq from being admitted to the U.S. unless the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence can certify to Congress that each refugee does not pose a security threat.
While McCain said he agrees refugee admissions should be paused until law enforcement and intelligence officials can sign off on the vetting process, he said more emphasis should be placed on President Obama’s insistence that his strategy against ISIS is working.
“The refugee crisis we face today is a result of the president’s failed leadership and total lack of strategy,” McCain said. “Now, even after [ISIS] has demonstrated the capability and intent to strike the capitals of the western world, the president remains impervious to reality and refuses to change course from his failed strategy.
“Failure to address this problem at its source will only prolong this conflict, produce more refugees, and place our security at greater risk.”
McCain on Tuesday also broke with some in his party, saying the refugee issue shouldn’t be linked to the government funding fight and there should not be a religious test to determine which refugees enter the country.
McCain’s statement echoes his House counterpart, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), who said Tuesday that stopping refugees does not stop ISIS.
“That’s not the only threat ISIS poses,” said Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Service Committee.
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