Grassley asks for details on Obama Administration’s refugee announcement

Syrian RefugeesFrom Press Release


Friday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) pressed Secretary of State John Kerry to clarify the administration’s plans to increase the number of refugees allowed into the United States in fiscal 2016, including up to 10,000 additional refugees from the war torn country of Syria. Grassley raised questions about the administration’s plans to admit additional refugees and whether adequate safeguards and background checks are in place to handle the influx.

While the administration proposed raising the refugee ceiling from 70,000 to 75,000, Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard admitted that administration officials are considering increasing the cap later in 2016. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest also said that the administration is considering allowing 10,000 refugees from Syria in 2016, an increase from earlier estimates.

In a letter to Kerry, Grassley asked how the administration will screen Syrian refugees to ensure they were not involved with terrorist organizations, whether the influx of refugees will strain the vetting process, and how the administration plans to respond in the event that refugees are determined to be involved in terrorist organizations after they have been admitted to the United States.  Further, Grassley asked Kerry to explain what the administration is doing to assess the willingness of other countries to admit Syrian refugees.

The letter follows a consultation earlier this week between Kerry and leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to discuss the proposed annual number of refugees to be admitted to the United States.  The State Department must consult with these congressional committees regarding the refugee cap each year as well as any time an increase in allowable refugees is proposed.

Following the consultation, Grassley emphasized that America’s security must remain a top priority when admitting refugees, especially when violent terrorist groups like ISIS are committed to finding ways to enter the United States and harm Americans.

The full text of Grassley’s letter can be found here.