WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) – Congressman Tim Ryan is among 47 Democratic lawmakers who voted in favor of a bill Thursday that would call for a more in-depth screening process for Syrian and Iraqi refugees coming to the United State.
The SAFE Act would would toughen the refugee screening process by requiring the FBI, Director of National Intelligence and Department of Homeland Security to directly certify to Congress that each person allowed into the country does not pose a threat to the U.S.
Currently, it takes a refugee a year and a half to two years to be cleared to come to the U.S., because they must be investigated by the FBI, state department and several other organizations. The vetting includes database screenings, medical screenings, finger prints and extensive interviews.
Ryan said he does not believe that refugees should be completely banned from the country, but he says that there should be additional protections in place after the recent attacks in Paris and threats to the U.S.
“We shouldn’t just throw up our arms and say we aren’t ever going to let anyone into the country. These are refugees, if they go back home they are going to be slaughtered,” he said. “We should be open. I just think the process needs to protect our country first.”
Ryan said the increased screenings would ensure Americans that the refugees are not terrorists.
The White House issued a statement saying the administration strongly opposes the bill, stating that there are safeguards already in place. The administration says that the added requirements are unnecessary and impractical and would create significant delays and obstacles for refugees.
Ryan said he does not think it will slow up the already nearly two-year-long process.
“We’ve got to protect the homeland, and we have to take every step necessary to make sure our people are safe,” he said.
President Barack Obama has said he would veto the bill if it also passes the Senate, although it will have to pass through the Senate first.