Rep. Brian Babin (R., Texas) and 36 other lawmakers are asking House leadership to use appropriations legislation to put a pause on refugees coming from "terrorist hotbeds" until appropriate screening measures are put in place.
The lawmakers wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), and Rep. Hal Rogers (R., Ky.), who chairs the Appropriations Committee, asking for the inclusion of provisions in the fiscal year 2017 continuing resolution that would put a moratorium on refugees coming from Syria, the Middle East, and North Africa until the U.S. government can properly screen them and congressional oversight of the refugee program is boosted.
"In the aftermath of the attacks by radical Islamist jihadists in Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels, Nice, Germany, Istanbul, and Orlando, the American people have become increasingly wary of the massive refugee influx from terrorist hot spots, the inability to conduct proper security screening of these individuals, and the serious national security concerns this raises for the American people," the lawmakers wrote Thursday.
They also alleged that Obama’s push to allow for the entry of 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States in the current fiscal year despite concerns from administration and national security officials "indicates that national security concerns are being set aside in order to meet arbitrary policy goals."
The lawmakers referred to statements from the Director of National Intelligence, FBI director, and the secretary of Homeland Security suggesting that the government cannot properly screen refugees from Syria and other areas.
"There is no duty of the federal government more important than ensuring the protection of the American people," the lawmakers wrote. "We believe that we would fall short of that duty if the Congress fails to exercise greater authority over the administration’s refugee resettlement program. We see this as an important national security concern and ask that this concern be addressed in the upcoming negotiations over funding in the FY 2017 Continuing Resolution."
Republicans and some Democrats have expressed concerns about the ability of terrorists to exploit the refugee program in order to gain entry into the United States, especially in the wake of terror attacks last year in Paris and San Bernardino.
Babin has led efforts to scrutinize the refugee resettlement program, introducing legislation last year that would immediately suspend the program pending an examination of its costs.
Earlier this week, the White House announced that it plans to sharply increase the total number of refugees accepted into the U.S. in the next fiscal year to 110,000, a 30 percent increase from the 85,000 allowed into the country in fiscal year 2016.