Kirk, other senators call on Obama to ensure Syrian refugees free of ISIS ties
U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) were the principal signers of a letter signed by 16 senators and sent to President Obama recently, calling for assurances that everything is being done to keep ISIS members or supporters from mixing in with Syrian refugees entering the U.S.
The letter was in response to the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and injured hundreds. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
After the attacks, many European officials confirmed that at least one of the attackers crossed the European Union border as part of a group of Syrian refugees. Two months ago, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, said the U.S. intelligence community was concerned that ISIS may attempt to infiltrate Syrian refugee migrations. In October, FBI Director James Comey said there were limits on how thoroughly Syrian refugees entering the U.S. could be screened for security risks. The U.S. reportedly has admitted over 1,800 Syrian refugees into the country over the past three years.
“While our country has a long history of welcoming refugees and has an important role to play in the heartbreaking Syrian-refugee crisis, our first and most important priority must be to ensure that any refugee who comes to the U.S. does not present a threat to the American people,” the senators said in the letter. “We believe that an essential component of that effort is ensuring that no refugee related to the Syrian crisis is admitted to the United States unless the U.S. government can guarantee, with 100 percent assurance, that they are not members, supporters or sympathizers of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as Daesh or ISIL.”
The letter urged Obama to respond by outlining challenges with the vetting process and providing details on the enhanced screening methods the administration plans to use.
“We ask that your administration immediately share this information with the American people,” the Senators said. “We look forward to a timely response. We cannot imagine a more urgent or higher priority.”
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