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U.S. House Speaker Wants Pause Of Syrian Resettlement

  • RFE/RL

The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan

The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan

WASHINGTON -- Тhe speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives said he would bring legislation to a vote this week ordering a pause in the U.S. settlement of Syrian refugees, amid a furious outcry from lawmakers in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

President Barack Obama’s administration has committed to bringing an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States, but last week's attacks in the French capital alarmed many politicians, mainly Republicans, who fear the vetting process might not be robust enough to catch radical extremists or would-be terrorists.

Dozens of state governors have come out saying they will fight efforts to host more Syrians.

Speaker Paul Ryan (Republican-Wisconsin) said the legislation would be brought up for consideration on November 19.

He also said in comments November 17 that the legislation would call for a better security system so that it can be verified whether refugees pose a security threat before a decision is made to allow them to enter the United States.

House Speaker-elect Paul Ryan is congratulated by members of the House as he enters the House Chamber after winning the votes neccessary to become the next Speaker of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington October 29, 2015.

House Speaker-elect Paul Ryan is congratulated by members of the House as he enters the House Chamber after winning the votes neccessary to become the next Speaker of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington October 29, 2015.

Some lawmakers opposing further Syrian resettlement pointed to indications that one of the attackers in Paris carried a Syrian passport and may have arrived in France amid the millions who have fled to Europe in recent months and years.

Germany's top security official said the passport that was found on the body of one of the attackers might have been a fake intended to stoke fears.

Obama and administration officials have lambasted Republicans, saying they are equating refugees with terrorists.

Some Democratic lawmakers, however, have also signaled a willingness to slow down or pause Syrian resettlement. Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, told reporters that a pause in accepting Syrian refugees "may be necessary."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, also said the refugee vetting process should be made stronger.

During a 90-minute conference call with 34 governors on November 17, top White House officials insisted that the U.S. screening program for refugees was the most rigorous vetting for any category of traveler to the United States.

U.S. State Department figures say about 2,500 Syrians have been admitted since the civil war broke out in the spring of 2011; about half of that number are children.

About 2 percent are single men of combat age. The overall pool is almost evenly split between males and females.

With reporting from AP and Reuters
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