The House of Representatives passed a GOP-authored bill yesterday to restrict the admission of Iraqi and Syrian refugees to America by requiring extra security procedures. The bill is called the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015, or the American SAFE Act of 2015. It requires that the secretary of Homeland Security, the head of the FBI and the director of national intelligence collectively must sign off on every individual refugee from Iraq and Syria, affirming he or she is not a threat. The FBI director would also need to confirm that an independent background investigation, separate from the Homeland Security screening, had been conducted on each refugee. Lawmakers say it will be the first of many bills aimed at addressing security concerns in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Supporters of the bill say it creates a “pause” in admitting Syrian and Iraqi refugees, as current applications would be halted while a new vetting process was established. There remains some even further conservative critics that argue the bill didn’t go far enough and that refugees should be banned from entry to the USA altogether.
Meanwhile, other Democrats criticize the bill arguing that requiring top officials to sign off on thousands of individual applications is simply unmanageable and ineffective means to add to an already extensive vetting process. The Obama administration says the bill would introduce “unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world.” The administration also says the bill would undermine allies and partners in the Middle East and Europe.
Perhaps most importantly, Obama argues that the existing vetting process, as we noted in detail, is sufficient, and the added requirement that the Republicans are calling for would “provide no meaningful additional security.”