Homeland Security Chair: 'We Don't Have the Ability to Monitor' the 2000 Syrian Refugees Already Here
|As Europe reels under a flood of refugees, concerns are growing in the United States about the government's ability to adequately screen Syrians and others who may have ties to terror groups. (AP File Photo)|
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, says the Obama administration is "playing Russian Roulette with national security" by bringing thousands of Syrian refugees into the country.
"I will say 2,000 of them have been brought in already, and we don't have the ability to monitor them," McCaul told Fox News's Sean Hannity Tuesday night.
"I think we need to put a pause on the program, put the brakes on it, pass my legislation to ensure the safety of Americans. I've had this both publicly and privately from the intelligence community and law enforcement that this poses a serious and imminent threat to the United States."
McCaul says the United States government has information indicating that people tied to terrorist groups in Syria already have tried to get into the U.S. through the refugee program.
"I sent a letter to the DNI, FBI, secretary of homeland," McCaul told Hannity. "The DNI, Director of National Intelligence, responded that the National Counterterrorism Center has identified -- and this is very, very important to your viewers -- has identified already individuals tied to terrorist organizations in Syria that want to exploit and get into the United States through the refugee process.
"Some of these have been stopped, but my concern is, if we allow this program to go forward, we could potentially be bringing ticking time-bombs into the United States that could perpetrate terrorist attacks."
President Obama plans to bring in another 10,000 Syrian refugees next year, unless the Republican-led Congress can stop him.
McCaul and others say there is no reliable information on the Syrian refugees, and therefore they cannot be properly vetted.
"And the fact is, when you have the FBI director, who testified before my committee, the secretary of Homeland Security to talk about the lack of a vetting process, first and foremost we have to protect the safety of Americans," McCaul told Hannity. "We're a humanitarian nation, but let's get this thing right before we start bringing in tens of thousands of Syrians.
"That is why the bill I introduced in the House that passed overwhelmingly has to pass in the Senate. And if the president vetoes it, we have a veto proof majority in the House to override that.
The House passed a bill last month requiring stricter screening for Syrian refugees in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks, but the Senate has not taken it up and President Obama has threatened to veto it.
McCaul said it's necessary to pause the influx, "because ISIS in their own words has said they want to exploit it to infiltrate the West. Now we have our intelligence community reporting to me that specific individuals now are trying to get into the United States through this program. It would be highly irresponsible for me to be complicit with a federal program that could bring terrorists into the United States at this particular time."
McCaul also stressed the need for more intelligence on the ground in Syria and Iraq; "The jihad movement is spreading throughout northern Africa. And so we have to have a more robust process national security vetting process before we bring any of these refugees into the United States."