GOP Rep on Syrian Refugees: Safety of Americans Should Be Top Priority

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AP File Photo/Bela Szandelszky

As the Obama administration prepares to vastly increase refugee admissions from hot spots like Syria, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) is raising concerns about the safety of his constituents.

“There is an affiliate of the Refugee Processing Center in Mobile, Alabama, located in my Congressional district,” Byrne wrote in a letter last week to Anne Richard, the assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration. “Given this information, I have legitimate concerns about the safety and security of my constituents in Southwest Alabama and people across the United States.”

This month the Obama administration announced its plan to increase the level of refugees to the U.S., including resettling at least 10,000 Syrian refugees into American communities next year.

Over the weekend Secretary of State John Kerry revealed that the administration will be increasing the number of admitted refugees from 70,000 this year to 85,000 next year, and 100,000 the following year. Byrne’s office released his letter to Richard Tuesday.

Republican lawmakers have warned that not only are there fiscal costs associated with refugee resettlement but also national security risks associated with resettling thousands of refugees from terrorist hot zones.

“Recently, National Intelligence Director James Clapper said that his agency would not ‘put it past the likes of ISIL to infiltrate operatives among these refugees,’” Byrne, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote in his letter. “These terrorist groups have made clear they intend to use the refugee process to infiltrate our country, and I have serious concerns about increasing the number of allowed refugees.”

The Alabama lawmaker pressed Richard on the precautions the administration is taking to ensure that the people who are admitted to the U.S. are not affiliated with ISIS or any other terrorist group.

“While I understand the serious challenges facing the Middle East, we must never lose sight of our top priority: to ensure the American people remain safe. If you have any questions about this request, my staff and I stand ready to assist. I look forward to your response,” he concluded.