Congress just voted to keep as many Syrian refugees out of the US as possible

Louis Dor
Friday 20 November 2015 14:00

The US House of Representatives has passed a Republican bill to restrict the admission of Iraqi and Syrian refugees by requiring extra security procedures.

The bill, called the ‘American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015’, requires the secretary of Homeland Security, the head of the FBI and the director of national intelligence to sign off on every single refugee, as either a threat or not a threat.

In addition, the FBI director would need to confirm a background investigation had been conducted in each case, in addition to a Homeland Security screening.

It reached the floor after concerns that one of the terrorists who attacked Paris last week entered Europe as a Syrian refugee, even though this allegation is still unfounded.

Those that oppose the bill say that requiring top officials' involvement in the sign off of every single person is unmanageable, and only exacerbates delays in aid to those fleeing a humanitarian crisis.

The bill, sponsored by Republican representatives Michael McCaul of Texas and Richard Hudson of North Carolina, passed in the House of Representatives, with 289 for and 137 against.

The White House has pledged to veto the bill if it passes in the Senate, but if the House of Representatives were to vote to override this, they would only need one more vote, 290 in total, to overrule the president.

The White House said that the bill introduces:

...Unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

The vetting process for refugees entering the US is already stringent and lengthy, as this infographic shows.

Since the outbreak of war in 2011, the US has taken in just 1,500 Syrians fleeing the conflict. President Obama has said another 10,000 will be re-homed in the US in 2017.

More: Republicans are victim-blaming Syrian refugees for the Paris terror attacks

More: The countries that contribute the most to the UN's refugee agency