Government

Grassley calls for 'prudent' delay in resettling Syrian refugees

Senator said national security is the No. 1 responsibility of president, Congress

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) talks to reporters on his opposition to current immigration reform legislation on Capitol
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) talks to reporters on his opposition to current immigration reform legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington June 27, 2013. REUTERS

CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Chuck Grassley is calling for Congress to limit funds for the resettlement of Syrian refugees until it is confident they will be properly vetted to reduce the likelihood of terrorists entering the United States.

He called it “prudent” to put resettlement on hold until intelligence agencies have signed off on the vetting protocol.

Grassley’s concern stems from reports that at least one of the ISIS terrorists in Paris had recently registered as a Syrian refugee in Greece. Also, Grassley cited comment by FBI Director James Comey during congressional testimony that “there are certain gaps … in the data available to us” in screening Syrian refugees. That includes fingerprints and background or biographic information crucial for an adequate screening of potential refugees, Grassley said.

The Iowa Republican interrupted his comments during a Wednesday morning conference call with Iowa reporters to cite a news report that eight suspected ISIS members were arrested while posing as refugees attempting to enter Germany.

Although the United States is a “welcoming nation,” Grassley said it is the “No. 1 responsibility” of the president and Congress to “protect the homeland and to secure the country against all threats.”

Delaying refugee resettlement until they can be properly vetted is necessary to “prevent a Paris-style attack from happening here.”

He went on to say that President Barack Obama’s recent remarks about opposition from GOP presidential candidates and governors shows he is “somewhat in denial” about the concern over refugee resettlement and forgetting his “No. 1 responsibility is to protect Americans.”

The U.S., Grassley noted, will accept about 75,000 non-Syrian refugees this year.

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Grassley also was asked about Gov. Terry Branstad saying the state will not accept Syrian refugees until it is satisfied they have been properly vetted.

“He’s got a lot of company,” Grassley said, noting 25 other governors have taken similar positions.

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