ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — U.S. Sen. Robert Mendendez says he won’t back a bill passed by the House last week aimed at tightening controls of refugees coming from Syria and Iraq.
The measure, which was quickly drafted following the Islamic State attacks in Paris, would suspend President Barack Obama’s program to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States in the next year while intensifying the process of screening them, WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported.
It would create “a standard that would be impossible when refugees, Syrian or others, who come to this country already face the toughest, highest security standards of any traveler to the United States,” Menendez, D-N.J., said Monday.
The senator said he’s more concerned about the visa waiver program, “which allows 38 countries in the world, including, for example, France, England, Germany and others, to come to the United States without a visa.
“That, to me, is a more significant risk than a refugee process that takes close to two years before you ever get through to the end of the process.”
The refugee crisis has been a divisive issue in American politics since the Paris attacks. More than 30 of the nation’s governors, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, say they oppose allowing refugees into their states out of fear that terrorists could pose as people seeking asylum to gain entry to the U.S.
The Obama administration last week sought to assure governors that refugees already face a rigorous vetting process.