By Kaitlin Junod
By Kaitlin Junod
Rabat – Today, the United States House of Representatives will vote on a bill that seeks to add security measures to the refugee vetting process.
Homeland Security Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced the bill in response to Friday’s attacks on Paris, though critics say it is taking political advantage of the tragedy.
This America SAFE Act of 2015 will require that in addition to the Department of Homeland Security screening, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would have to investigate refugees seeking admission to the United States. The current process could take from 18 to 24 months to complete.
Fear of accepting refugees was stirred when a Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the Paris attackers, though immigration experts question the connection between the two.
Over 25 Republican governors and one Democratic governor have said their states will not accept Syrian refugees, though, according to the Constitution, there are no lawful means for state governments to change immigration policy. States where governors say refugees are not welcome include Alabama, Georgia, Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire and more.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has made the argument that the majority of Syrian refugees are young males who could be “infiltrated by terrorists.”
However, data from the UNHCR suggests that 50.5 percent of refugees are women, 6.5 percent are male ages 12 to 17, and 51.1 percent are under the age of 17.
In addition, a 2014 Senate Judiciary Hearing found that the Department of Homeland Security vetting process “employs robust security measures to protect against risks to our national security.”
Furthermore, Syrians are already the “most highly scrutinized and vetted group of travelers to the United Stats,” according to Anne Richard, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration.
Only 1,500 Syrian refugees have been accepted into the United States since 2011.
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, French president Francois Hollande has increased the number of refugees France will accept in the next two years from 24,000 to 30,000 and will invest about 49.8 million euros (533 million dirham) to develop housing for them.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite