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US politicians just voted to make it almost impossible for refugees fleeing ISIS to come to America

“We might as well take down the Statue of Liberty,” said one disgusted Democrat.

Superstorm Liberty Island Source: Associated Press

THE US HOUSE of Representatives has taken a major step towards making it much harder for those fleeing ISIS to enter the United States.

By an overwhelming margin of 289-137, the lower house voted for a Republican bill that would erect new hurdles for refugees from Syria and Iraq attempting to live in America.

President Barack Obama had vowed to veto the legislation, but 47 Yes votes by his fellow Democrats bring the margin of support above two thirds, and make it highly likely any presidential veto would be overridden.

Last Friday’s attacks in Paris have turned the question of admitting people fleeing war-torn Syria and Iraq into a high-stakes political issue in both the United States and Europe, and many Democrats were willing to vote against Obama for fear of angering voters nervous about security at home.

Democrats opposing the GOP bill said the U.S. has no business abandoning its age-old values, including being a safe haven for people fleeing countries racked by violence.

Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler said:

Defeating terrorism should not mean slamming the door in the faces of those fleeing the terrorists. We might as well take down the Statue of Liberty.

However, Republicans like House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that in dangerous times, the government must first protect its own.

It is against the values of our nation and the values of a free society to give terrorists the opening they are looking for.

hr4038 Source: Govtrack.us

In a sign of the conflicting political undercurrents confronting Democrats, senior House Democrats said they did not push rank-and-file lawmakers to oppose the bill.

“I’ve said to them from the start, ‘Nobody’s asked you to do anything,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who opposed the bill.

Do whatever works for you, for your district.

The measure would effectively suspend admissions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and would require the FBI to conduct background checks on people coming to the U.S. from those countries.

It would oblige the heads of the FBI and Homeland Security Department and the director of national intelligence to certify to Congress that each refugee “is not a threat to the security of the United States.”

Before becoming law, the bill will have to pass the US Senate, where there is a Republican majority of 54-44.

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Statue of Liberty Evacuation Source: Associated Press

Currently, the refugee screening process typically takes 18 to 24 months and includes interviews, fingerprinting and database crosschecks by several federal agencies.

Syrians undergo additional screening involving data from the U.N. Refugee Agency and interviews by Homeland Security Department officials trained to question Syrians.

The Obama administration wants to increase the 70,000 refugees to be admitted from around the world this year by 10,000, with much of the increase for Syrians.

The White House said that of 2,174 Syrians admitted to the U.S. since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, none has been arrested or deported because of allegations they harbored extremist ambitions.

Contains reporting by the Associated Press.

Read: Nearly half of US states want to shut their doors to Syrian refugees>

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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