National Security

Homeland Security chairman: ‘Gaping holes’ on refugees

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The head of the House Homeland Security Committee warned on Sunday that “gaping holes” within U.S. defenses make the nation vulnerable to attacks similar to Friday’s violence in Paris.

“There are a lot of holes — gaping holes,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We have hundreds of Americans that have traveled” to Iraq and Syria, he added. “Many of them have come back as well. I think that’s a direct threat.”

{mosads}McCaul has previously warned that the flow of Europeans and — to a lesser extent — Americans into the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) poses a threat to those countries when people return home.

In addition, McCaul has warned that an influx of Syrian refugees fleeing the ongoing chaos provides a perfect opportunity for Islamic extremists to slip into the U.S. or another country undetected.

“This causes a great concern on the part of policymakers, because we don’t want to be complicit with a program that could bring potential terrorists into the United States,” McCaul said.

One of the men involved in Friday’s attack across Paris, which killed 129 people, was reported to have slipped into the country by disguising himself as a Syrian refugee.

Though the Obama administration has insisted that that revelation does not affect its plans to allow thousands more migrants into the U.S., the news will surely be used by opponents of the policy. 

On Capitol Hill, top intelligence and law enforcement officials have testified that “gaps” in intelligence about the refugees leave them with some worries.

McCaul on Sunday said that he had spoken with officials at the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, who “they tell me this cannot be properly done.”

“We don’t have the databases to vet them.”

The White House has announced plans to increase the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. to 10,000. Still, that number is just a sliver compared to the plans of some other nations, such as Germany, which has estimated that as many as 800,000 migrants will resettle within its borders this year.

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