Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) says he’s not concerned with the vetting of the 10,000 Syrian refugees coming to the United States.
“Are you concerned with the refugees coming here in the next 12 months? Are you concerned about the vetting process?” talk show host Dan Mandis asked Corker on Nashville’s WWTN radio Wednesday.
“Well, I’m not, because we are going to vet them,” Corker said.
Corker’s claims that the 10,000 Syrian refugees the State Department plans to grant entry to the United States in Fiscal Year 2016 are being properly vetted is in direct conflict with FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee last week.
As CNS News reported:
“We can only query against that which we have collected, and so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interests reflected in our database, we can query our database til the cows come home, but … there’ll be nothing show up, because we have no record on that person,” said Comey…
Ranking member Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) asked Comey, “Mr. Director, before this committee, [FBI] Assistant Director [Michael] Steinbach said that the concerns in Syria is that we don’t have the systems in place on the ground to collect the information to vet. That would be the concern. Databases don’t hold the information on these individuals. Is that still the position of the department?”
“Yes, I think that’s the challenge we’re all talking about, is that we can only query against that which we have collected, and so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interests reflected in our database, we can query our database til the cows come home, but we’re not gonna—there’ll be nothing show up, because we have no record on that person,” said Comey.
At a subsequent House Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Comey told Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) neither the FBI nor any part of the Obama administration “could offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with [admitting these 10,000 Syrian refugees in Fiscal Year 2016].”
In Wednesday’s radio interview, Mandis brought the Obama administration’s admission it could not vet these refugees to Corker’s attention.
“Authorities in Canada, in the last 24 hours or so, have said that they intend to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees, meanwhile, our own government, as you know, they plan on bringing in some 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year or so. Some of those are going to be coming to Tennessee, while admitting we have no way to properly vet those wanting to come in,” Mandis noted.
Corker blew right past that important point, completely ignoring FBI Director Comey’s testimony that the Obama administration cannot properly vet any of the Syrian refugees.
“There’s no way that we’re going to allow refugees into the country that aren’t vetted. So, and that takes, typically, it’s been taking about two years,” he added.
“We’ve had conversations with State, the entity that … deals with this vetting, and obviously …we don’t want to cut down in quality in any way, but they’re looking at ways of speeding up the vetting,” Corker added.
“When you look at people who would be coming to the U.S., these are people that have been in the pipeline for a long, long time. They’re not the people that you’re seeing on the TV screen,” the senior senator from Tennessee claimed.
“And that’s why we keep saying. . . ,people are lending a hand, but we’re not lending a hand to those people that you’re seeing on the screens, and what we really need to do is to stop this at the root, and that is in Syria where Assad is barrel bombing his own citizens, where Russia now is taking part and killing the moderate Syrians we have been supporting,” Corker concluded.
Corker also claimed that the 10,000 refugees the State Department plans on granting entry to the United States between now and September 2016 are “not the people that you’re seeing on the TV screen.”
Instead, they are among the 18,000 Syrian refugees Corker says “have been in the pipeline for a long, long time” who have been referred to the United States by the United Nations for vetting.
As the New York Times reported:
Under pressure from Europe and other countries confronting the global migration crisis, Mr. Obama has raised the number of Syrian refugees who will be offered legal status to at least 10,000 this fiscal year.
Some cities and towns have resisted. In Duncan, S.C., residents and elected officials argue that the federal government cannot possibly screen out terrorists, and some say that more Muslim immigrants would threaten American culture.
The Times also reported that “1,854 Syrian refugees [were] admitted by the United States between 2012 to Sept. 2015,” in contrast to 92,991 admitted by Germany during the same time period. It also claimed “[t]he additional 10,000 Syrian refugees this year would come from 18,000 referrals already submitted by the United Nations. State Department officials said that more than half of them were children.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), has an entirely different view of the Obama administration’s capability to vet the 10,000 Syrian refugees than does Senator Corker, whether they are among those 18,000 on the current United Nations list, or the thousands of refugees seen on the TV screen.
In a letter to President Obama this week, Goodlatte wrote:
Based on the concerns raised by security officials within your Administration at the agencies relevant to conducting security checks, I request that you rescind your directive to Secretary Kerry to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees during Fiscal Year 2016, and that your Administration not admit any Syrian refugees until such time that a security check process is implemented that will ensure no refugee is admitted who is a terrorist or is likely to be a terrorist.
Senator Corker’s apparent disconnect from the facts surrounding the federal government’s inability to properly vet Syrian refugees, as confirmed by FBI Director James Comey, is yet another reason why conservatives in Tennessee are looking seriously at mounting a challenge to him in the 2018 Republican primary in the state.