Politics

GOP, Obama Clash Over Syrian Refugee Program

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Syrian refugees on train tracksSyrian refugees on train tracks

In the aftermath of ISIS’s attack on Paris Nov. 13, which left more than 100 people dead, President Barack Obama pledged to continue the U.S.’s program that allows Syrian refugees, most of whom are fleeing ISIS’s reign of terror and oppression, into the U.S.

The backlash from Republicans has gone from beyond the state level all the way to Capitol Hill, and members of congress are working to block the refugee program. 

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"This is a moment where it is better to be safe than to be sorry, so we think the prudent, the responsible thing is to take a pause in this particular aspect of this refugee program in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population," House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said on Nov. 17, according to U.S. News.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agrees.

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"If the administration doesn't have the ability to guarantee that the vetting process is one that has integrity, obviously there would be a lot of concerns about people coming in,” he said. "We've had a number of red flags recently relative to the program itself, so I think everyone here is going to want to understand if there is a real way to vet people who are coming from that part of the world."

Obama hit back when Republicans gathered to fight his plan to allow refugees into the U.S.

“We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic," he said at a summit in the Philippines on Nov. 18, according to The Guardian. "We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.

" ... [ISIS] seeks to exploit the idea that there’s war between Islam and the west, and when you see individuals in positions of responsibility suggesting Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the [ISIS] narrative. It’s counter-productive. And it needs to stop.”

Ryan has assembled a task force to work on refugee legislation immediately. 

“We’re meeting every day and we will bring legislation forward,” he said.

Sources: U.S. News, The Guardian / Photo Credit: Freedom House/Flickr, WikiCommons