National Security

Dems Seek Quicker Admission of Syrian Refugees Despite Terrorism Concerns

Syrian refugee family in eastern Lebanese town / AP

Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Obama Wednesday pressing the administration to accelerate the admission process for Syrian refugees to settle in the United States.

Obama vowed last year that the U.S. would resettle up to 10,000 individuals seeking haven from the Syrian civil before September, but according to Reuters only 1,736 refugees have been admitted.

27 senators, including the No. 2 Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I, Vt.), signed the letter urging the Obama administration to "devote the necessary resources to expeditiously and safely resettle Refugees from Syria."

"We are deeply concerned about the slow pace of admissions for Syrian refugees in the first seven months of the fiscal year," the senators wrote in the letter obtained by Reuters.

The letter arrived three weeks after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that the Islamic State terrorist group has "taken advantage" of the migrant crisis in Europe, advising E.U. nations to maintain awareness.

One of the suicide bombers who conspired in the November Paris attacks that killed 130 people entered Greece using a fake Syrian passport posing as a refugee. He then traveled the same route fleeing migrants use to make his way into Western Europe.

The revelations have ignited criticism from Republicans who contend that the president’s plan would lead to similar attacks in the U.S. without a stringent vetting process in place.

More than 30 governors have called on the U.S. to halt the refugee resettlement program and have tried implementing restrictions to prevent them from entering their states. Only one of those states was home to a Democratic governor.

The Democratic signatories demanded in their letter that the administration provide specific details as to how the nation would carry through on its vow to resettle the remaining 8,264 Syrians during the next five months.

"Other nations, including ours, can and should do much more," the senators wrote.

The U.S. has so far resettled more than 6,000 refugees from Myanmar and more than 5,000 from Iraq.