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A group of 14 Democrat senators has written a letter to President Obama urging him to “dramatically increase” the number of Syrian refugees being resettled into American cities and towns.

They say the U.S. needs to take in at least 65,000 Syrians as permanent refugees over the next year-and-a-half.

“While the United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, we must also dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees that we accept for resettlement,” says the four-page letter to Obama, copied to Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

More than 3.5 million Syrians are registered with the United Nations as refugees, and the U.N. wants to assign about 350,000 of them to so-called “third-party countries.”

The 14 senators, led by Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., cite the research of the Refugee Council USA to make their case for 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. RCUSA is the main lobbying arm of the nine agencies that contract with the federal government to resettle refugees in cities and towns across America.
The more refugees brought into the country, the more government grants doled out to the nine resettlement agencies. Among them are the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Church World Service, International Rescue Committee and the National Association of Evangelicals’ World Relief.

Of the 843 Syrians resettled in the U.S. since the start of the Syrian civil war, 92 percent have been Muslim and about 7 percent Christian. Syria’s overall population is 90 percent Muslim and close to 10 percent Christian.

“The vast majority of these refugees are women and children, including two million children,” the letter states, using language similar to what Democrats used to justify the entry of some 60,000 unaccompanied alien children from Central America last year. “An entire generation of Syrian children is at risk.

“More than ten thousand Syrian children have been killed, and half of Syrian refugee children are not attending school, more than one-hundred thousand are working to support their families, and thousands are unaccompanied or separated from their parents.

“[W]e urge your Administration to work to accept at least 50 percent of Syrian refugees whom UNCHR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] is seeking to resettle, consistent with our nation’s traditional practice under both Republican and Democratic Presidents.”

The letter also addresses the security concerns about accepting Syrians who may have ties to the various Islamic extremist factions fighting to overthrow and replace Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Among them are ISIS, Jabat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army.

“We fully support your Administration’s efforts to ensure that any potential security concerns are addressed by strengthening security checks for refugees with the latest technology and information,” the letter states.

“Refugees are the most carefully vetted of all travelers to the U.S., with extensive biometric, biographic, intelligence, and law enforcement checks involving numerous agencies,” the letter says, parroting the U.S. State Department talking points about the quality of the screening process for refugees.

The problem with that argument, however, is that it has been debunked by FBI counter-terrorism experts who have openly admitted it is virtually impossible to screen Syrian refugees, precisely because U.S. agents don’t have access to reliable biometric and law enforcement data. As WND previously reported, Michael Steinbach, deputy assistant director of the FBI counter-terrorism unit, admitted at a hearing before the House Homeland Security committee on Feb. 11 that reliable records are not available in a “failed state” like Syria.

The House Homeland Security Committee was schedule to hold another hearing this week on the national security risks associated with the Syrian refugees, but that hearing was postponed Thursday until further notice.

The letter being sent to Obama makes the upcoming House hearing even more pivotal as the battle over this issue heats up on both sides of the aisle, with Democrats pushing for more Syrians and Republicans pushing for less.

Sound off in today’s WND POLL: Allah Allah oxen free … Why is Obama importing so many Muslim refugees into America?

‘A serious mistake’

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, says resettling Syrian refugees in the U.S. is a “serious mistake” and should be stopped until safeguards are in place.

“We have no way … to know who these people are, and so I think bringing them in is a serious mistake,” said McCaul during a press conference Thursday.

McCaul said the U.S. has “no intelligence footprint or capability” inside Syria to ensure refugees mean no harm.

“We don’t have databases on these individuals so we can’t properly vet them,” he added, “to know where they came from, to know what threat they pose, because we don’t have the data to cross-reference them with.”

McCaul, who has visited Syrian refugee camps overseas, said that while there are “a lot of mothers and kids, there are [also] a lot of males of the age that could conduct terrorist operations.”

“That concerns me,” he added.

Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is equally concerned.

“It is virtually impossible for the United States government to ‘vet’ Syrian refugees prior to resettlement in the U.S.,” Bachmann told WND. “Bringing Syrians into the U.S. is more than a terrible idea, it could be deadly for innocent American citizens.”

‘Give me your tired…’

The U.S. takes in more refugees than any other country by far. In the current fiscal year it has committed to accept 70,000 and some years it has been as high as 200,000. Almost all of the refugees coming to the U.S. are selected by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

Also playing against the Democratic senators argument is the recent string of arrests of Somali refugees and children of Somali refugees. Just last month six Somali young men were arrested and charged with trying to leave the country to fight for ISIS. Two of them used their college student loan money to pay for plane tickets to Turkey.

Dozens of others have gone to fight with al-Shabab in Somalia and still others have been arrested, charged and convicted of providing money or other material support to overseas terrorist organizations.

Somalia, like Syria, is a failed state where the U.S. has no military presence and no access to reliable law enforcement data, said Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies.

“This issue has obviously come up before. We’ve had a bunch of people who have come in as refugees and committed terrorist acts, or tried to commit terrorist acts,” said Camarota. “But I think the underlying question is, one, the ability to vet people from a war-torn country that had poor record keeping to begin with is virtually nonexistent now. There’s simply no way to know what people have done in the past from a country like Syria.

“All we know about Syria is that powerful and well-organized terrorist groups operate throughout the country,” he said.

Lessons learned or mistakes repeated?

Even if they could be adequately screened, experience proves that the


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