U.S. government officials expressed concern over rising unity amongst U.S. lawmakers to block Syrian refugees from coming to the United States.
The program to resettle Syrian refugees to the United States, as they flee their war-torn country, has come under intense scrutiny following the terror attacks that killed at least 120 people in Paris.
ISIS, which holds a major hub in Syria claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The increasingly partisan response to the Syrian resettlement program in the U.S. is particularly worrisome for the government officials running the program. The fear now is that the program bringing refugees to the United States, which is a run by the federal government, would lose the bipartisan support that it “has enjoyed for decades,” a U.S. senior administration official told members of the press in a Tuesday conference call. Ultimately, the federal government, specifically the president, holds the decision making power to admit refugees. However, having the support of local lawmakers makes resettling refugees, and continuing to gain funding for the program, easier.
The remarks came as over half of the U.S.’ governors said they oppose letting Syrian refugees into their respective states. It also came as newly-minted House Speaker Paul Ryan called for a “pause” in admitting Syrian refugees to the United States—something U.S. President Barack Obama has been openly against doing.
The administration official, who spoke to the press on background, said that the U.S. government has historically enjoyed bipartisan support with their refugee resettlement program—until, seemingly, now. However, the official said most members of Congress that are against bringing refugees to the U.S. from Syria have “misinformation” about how the program works, and the “rigorous” vetting and screening program that the U.S. government puts each applicant through. The program “is a proud American tradition,” the official said.
Currently, there are 180 locations across the U.S. that are flagged as places to resettle refugees. Typically, the resettlement location is chosen dependent on whether the refugees would feel comfortable there, whether they can find a job, and whether they are close to any family that may already be living in the United States, the official said.