GOP worried about 'surge' of Syrian refugee interviews

GOP worried about 'surge' of Syrian refugee interviews
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Senate Republicans are raising concerns that the Obama administration is preparing to interview a "surge" of Syrian refugees, as part of the vetting process to potentially allow some to be admitted into the United States. 
 
A handful of Senate Republicans said Friday that the Judiciary Committee has learned that the administration is sending officials to Jordan to interview thousands of candidates for the U.S. refugee resettlement program. 
 
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"The Administration’s refusal to suspend or even slow the pace of such refugee processing is particularly disturbing when reports abound of [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] terrorists intentionally inserting themselves into the Syrian refugee stream," the senators wrote in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryPompeo announces Israeli settlements do not violate international law Deval Patrick's 2020 entry raises stakes in New Hampshire Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide MORE
 
The senators added that according to what the committee has been told, the administration is sending between 200-300 officials to Jordan for at least 45 days. 
 
The lawmakers say they are concerned that the move, referred to as the "MARKA surge," is being used to quicken the pace of refugee vetting, which on average takes two years to complete. 
 
The senators are asking Kerry and Johnson for a range of details on the trip, including how many employees will be sent to Jordan, when they will travel to Jordan and how long they will be there, how many refugees will be processed and approximately how much the trip will cost. 
 
The administration's plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees has earned fierce pushback from congressional Republicans. They argue that members of terrorist groups can use the program to sneak into the United States and carry out attacks similar to those in Paris late last year. 
 
While Democrats blocked the Senate from taking up legislation to crack down on the acceptance of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, Republicans have continued to push the administration to temporarily halt the resettlement program until the vetting process can be strengthened to ensure refugees aren't a national security threat. 
 
The letter, which was released Friday, was spearheaded by Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate aides met with tax return whistleblower: report Booker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse MORE (R-Iowa), who chairs the Judiciary Committee. Republican Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Stopgap spending bill includes military pay raise | Schumer presses Pentagon to protect impeachment witnesses | US ends civil-nuclear waiver in Iran Cruz, Graham and Cheney call on Trump to end all nuclear waivers for Iran Pompeo: US ending sanctions waiver for site where Iran resumed uranium enrichment MORE (Texas), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump awards Medal of Freedom to racing industry icon Roger Penske Trump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals Trump to award Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese MORE (Utah), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Hillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant Senators introduce bipartisan bill restricting police use of facial recognition tech MORE (Utah), David Perdue (Ga.), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: Ukraine's not the only outrage To understand death behind bars, we need more information White House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations MORE (Ala.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterRed-state governor races put both parties on edge Louisiana Republicans score big legislative wins Trump calls on Republicans to vote out Democratic Louisiana governor amid GOP infighting MORE (La.), who are all members of the committee, signed onto the letter.