Republicans determined to stop further Syrian refugees from resettling in the United States are looking for solutions at the legislative level to halt the administration’s plan.
Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, Chairman of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, released a statement on Monday that proposes to resettle the refugees in Middle Eastern countries. According to Sessions, the administration plans to resettle 200,000 new refugees in the next two years.
“The U.S. has already taken in four times more immigrants than any other nation on Earth. Our foreign-born population share is set to break every known historical record. Since 9/11, we have permanently resettled approximately 1.5 million migrants from Muslim nations inside the U.S.,” Sessions said.
He explained, “Ninety percent of recent refugees from the Middle East living in our country are receiving food stamps and approximately 70 percent are receiving free healthcare and cash welfare.”
Sessions added that all of the incoming refugees would have access to the same benefits and the refugee expansion would be in addition to the one million autopilot green cards handed out each year.
None of the Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, have settled any Syrians who are attempting to escape the conflict in their country. National Public Radio points to the United Nations refugee agency and Amnesty International as proof of this. (RELATED: Why Isn’t Saudi Arabia Taking In Any Refugees?)
“The Gulf states have traditionally not been resettlement countries,” Bill Frelick, the refugee program director at Human Rights Watch told NPR. “They’ve been sort of aloof from doing that. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take on this responsibility. This is a responsibility that should be shared by all countries.”
However, Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, responded, “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the largest supporters of aid to the Syrian refugees, whether in Jordan or Lebanon and other places.” He added, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been a welcoming environment for Syrians.”
A House bill, proposed by Republican Texas Rep. Brian Babin, intended to halt the resettlement in the United States temporarily, is another avenue members Congress will be looking at. Babin’s bill already has support from Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, Chairman of the Rules Committee, and Texas Rep. Mike McCaul, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
Babin told The Daily Caller on Tuesday that he hopes the support of both Chairmen will bring forth more co-sponsors and hopefully Democrats as well.
“I plan on working on this bi-partisanly. Hopefully, we’ll get some Democrats on there, but I can’t say how that is gonna turn out.” He later said, “This could be the most important vote that we as members of Congress can make. That is for the national security of American citizens, including my 12 grandchildren.”
A Capitol Hill insider suggested that the appropriations process or a Congressional Resolution (CR) may also be used as pathways to stop the resettlement plans. However, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran or House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers would need to be on board, along with GOP leadership in both chambers, for such a plan to launch.
“They are the ones that control, along with McConnell, McCarthy, Boehner, Cornyn, Thune, and Scalise, what’s in the CR or the appropriations bill. The CR is 60 days and then the aprops bill is for a year. You can put it in the appropriations bill, but it would have to be this year to be either in the CR or the appropriations bill.”
Additionally, at least a handful of Republicans in the upper chamber, support the president’s plan to bring in more Syrian refugees. These GOP members include: Arizona Sen. John McCain, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the three different subcommittees including Crime and Terrorism as well as State, Foreign Operations, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.