The Obama administration is defending its screening process for Syrian refugees following growing backlash against accepting refugees into the country.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner insisted that refugees go through a stringent screening process before being accepted into the United States.
“We stand by our process,” Toner said. “We take very seriously the security of the United States.”
National Intelligence Director James Clapper echoed Toner’s statement, saying the government had a “pretty aggressive program” for screening refugees.
“I don’t, obviously, put it past the likes of [Islamic State group] to infiltrate operatives among these refugees, so that’s a huge concern of ours,” he admitted.
The administration plans to resettle at least 10,000 refugees this year, with half the country’s governors saying they wouldn’t be accepting Syrian refugees in their states out of fear that terrorists might be among them.
President Barack Obama responded to the growing anti-refugee sentiment during a speech in Turkey on Nov. 16.
“My first priority is the safety of the American people. And that’s why, even as we accept more refugees — including Syrians — we do so only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks,” he said.
“Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.”