The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said he’d be supportive of bringing in more Syrian refugees if there was a proper vetting process, but he fears a “reckless and dangerous policy” taking shape.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday that President Obama “informed his team that he would like them to accept — at least make preparations to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year.” In the fiscal year that ends this month, “the United States is on track to take in about 1,500 Syrian refugees.”
Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) told ABC on Sunday that “it’s a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions” and “the result of a failed foreign policy in Syria with the inability to remove Assad from power and also the rise of ISIS.”
“That’s why these refugees are fleeing,” he said. “And until we address the root cause of the problem there, we are going to continue to have a refugee crisis globally….From a national security standpoint, I take ISIS at its word when they said in their own words that we’ll use and exploit the refugee crisis to infiltrate the west. That concerns me.”
“If I could be assured these people could be vetted properly I would be supportive.”
McCaul stressed that “the problem is the FBI testified before my committee, I’ve had Homeland Security officials and the intelligence community who all say to me that we don’t have the systems in place on the ground in Syria to properly vet these individuals.”
“We don’t know who they are. I visited one of these camps in Jordan. The minister of security told me he doesn’t know who these people are,” the chairman said. “But when you have the DNI, Mr. Clapper, express concerns and the FBI and Homeland privately as well saying that we don’t have the intelligence on the ground to vet these persons properly — that to me, my first and foremost job is to protect the American people.”
“We are a compassionate nation. We have to deal with this crisis. But, you know, this is — could be a very reckless and dangerous policy.”
McCaul said the U.S. has “disrupted” one plot against Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, Philadelphia and New York this month, but he’s still “concerned.”
“I was briefed by the Secret Service in a classified setting. The pope is a very — I’m Catholic, by the way — he is a very passionate man. He likes to get out with the people. And with that comes a large security risk,” he said.
“We are monitoring very closely threats against the pope as he comes in to the United States. We have disrupted one particular case in particular. But as that date approaches, I think we’re all very — be very vigilant to protect him as he comes into the United States.”