US House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday called for a suspension of US President Barack Obama’s refugee policy that aims to allow 10.000 Syrian refugees into the country by the end of 2016.
The move follows a parallel stance taken by 26 US governors as they announced they will stop the settlement of Syrian refugees in their states.
The officials say it is too risky to allow refugees and announced their decision in the aftermath of the Friday’s deadly Paris attacks carried out by the terrorist group DAESH.
After the attacks that killed 129 and injured more than 350, a Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the perpetrators of the attack.
The French authorities' discovery of the passport has ignited concerns that at least one of the perpetrators might have entered Europe along with the thousands of Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country.
Ryan said he had set up a task force in order to consider legislation that would pause Obama’s refugee plan “as quickly as possible." Ryan did not gave details about the proposed legislation.
"The prudent, the responsible thing is to take a pause in this particular aspect of this refugee program in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population," said Republican speaker of the house who assumed office late in October.
Our refugee laws are important. America is compassionate. We can't allow ourselves to be taken advantage of by terrorists. #WSJCEOCouncil
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) November 17, 2015
Ryan defined the Paris attacks as “an act of war against the West.”
US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said a moratorium should be placed on Obama’s refugee resettlement program.
Despite several statement from governors that they will block refugee intake to their states, Ohio governor and Republican ppresidential candidate John Kasich said governors “don’t have the authority” to do so, while voicing opposition to the refugee plan.
Florida Governor Rick Scott sent a letter to Republicans in US Congress asking for their help on the issue.
"We are asking the US Congress to take immediate and aggressive action to prevent President Obama and his administration from using any federal tax dollars to fund the relocation ... without an extensive evaluation of the risk these individuals may pose to our national security," he wrote.
Regulating refugee admission
Some other lawmakers proposed measures to regulate refugee admission procedures, by setting strict conditions such as involvement of the FBI in the background checks.
Republican Senator John McCain backed intensive vetting of any Syrian refugees, while strongly opposing to halt refugee intake. He also disapproved of refugee discrimination on religious grounds.
"All of us are God's children ... so I disagree with that assumption that only Christian children should be able to come to the United States," he said.
With a opposite stand on the other hand, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said, "I don't think it's discriminatory to suggest that we should be duty bound to provide support for Christians who only because of their faith are being obliterated in the region."
We should have no empathy for radical Islamic terrorists. We should destroy them – plain and simple. https://t.co/qSNge6vKnD
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) November 16, 2015
US Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said the refugee vetting process should be scrupulous but that there is no need to pause refugee admissions.
The US admitted 1,682 Syrian refugees in the 2015 federal fiscal year. Texas, California and Michigan are amongst the states that accepted the largest number of Syrian refugees.
Secretary of State John Kerry in September said the US would increase refugee intake from all nations by 15,000 per year over the next two years.