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Government & Politics

Sen. Portman Votes For More Screening For Incoming Refugees


Sen. Rob Portman voted for a bill this week that would halt Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the U.S. until better screening is in place. WKSU’sKabirBhatia reports.

The American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act – or SAFE – would have required Homeland Security and the FBI to certify each refugee as not being a security threat to the U.S. It passed the House last year. It was blocked in the Senate on Wednesday.

Sen. Portman says the U.S. can still help the refugees by providing better conditions in their camps, and by establishing a “no-fly” zone over Syria.

“When these refugees are interviewed, the vast majority of them say, when they're asked, ‘Do you want to go to America or Europe? Where do you want to go?’ They say, ‘No, I'd like to stay in Syria. I'd like to stay home.’ They don't want to leave.”

The Republican senator says the Obama administration needs to put better safeguards in place.

“Look at what just happened in Turkey last week: it was a refugee who had gone through some process. It was, in that case, a Syrian refugee. We've had Iraqi refugees -- two brothers -- about a month ago convicted in Cincinnati for terrorist activity. So, I think the enhanced screening makes a lot of sense. And we'd like the FBI and the Homeland Security Department [and] counter-terrorism office to take responsibility here.”