U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, and U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Virginia, are pushing the Obama administration to double down on its vetting of refugees amid plans to increase the number accepted into the United States each year.
The two lawmakers sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warning that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters could try to sneak into the United States disguised of refugees.
“We must be aware that groups like ISIS will infiltrate refugee camps and try to seek admittance into the United States. As you move forward with the process of admitting more refugees into this country, it is critical that rigorous background checks and security measures are in place,” they wrote.
Republicans have raised national security concerns over the administration’s ability to maintain the vetting process while also increasing the number Syrian refugees accepted into the country.
The two lawmakers added that while the United States “is a compassionate country and has a role to play… we must also ensure that our national security is not compromised in this process.”
Democrats have largely backed Obama’s push to accept more refugees, while acknowledging that the State Department would need additional funding to help process and vet applications.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Lindsey Graham R-South Carolina, who is running for president, have introduced legislation that would give the administration an extra $1 billion in funding.
Lankford and Forbes suggested in their letter that as the administration accepts more refugees it should prioritize religious minorities, such as the Yazidis, who have been targeted by ISIS.