New bill in Congress proposes stricter vetting of refugees

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Governors Push Back on US Syrian Refugees Plan

A U.S. lawmaker introduced a bill aiming to toughen the vetting process for refugees seeking to enter the United States as Republican leaders in Congress sought to block Syrians fleeing war in their country.

The Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul, said his bill would strengthen security measures for all refugee populations.

SEE ALSO: When refugees arrive in US, here's what they can expect

It would stipulate that no Syrian or Iraqi refugee can enter the United States until Congress receives certification that they are not a national security threat, he said in a statement late on Tuesday.

"The bill requires the nation's top security officials — the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the FBI, and the Director of National Intelligence — to certify before admitting any Syrian or Iraqi refugee into the United States that the individual does not represent a security threat," McCaul said.

Americans protest refugees:

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2016 issues: U.S. rallies and protests on refugees, migrant crisis
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New bill in Congress proposes stricter vetting of refugees
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A demonstrator holds a flag declaring 'Refugees Welcome.' A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A lone counter -protester, James MacDonald stands on the curb declaring the opposite of the rally's message - Mr. MacDonald objects the proposed U.S. asylum for 10,000 refugees on the basis of security concerns. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A protester holds a sign at the rally. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A trio of demonstrators hold signs in English and in Arabic at the rally. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A demonstrator holds a sign displaying the famed image of a Syrian refugee child found dead on the shore. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: Sculptures of bodies wrapped in burial cloths are placed at the center of the rally as a reminder of the deaths of Syrian refugees. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: Sarab Al-Jijakli, a Syrian-American New Yorker who helped to organize the rally, addresses the crowd. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A demonstrator holds a sign condemning the United Nations. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A Syrian-American child stands in front of a banner at the rally. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
In this video frame grab image from U.S. Senate Television, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., displays a photo of the body of a three year-old Syrian refugee as he urged stronger leadership from President Barack Obama on Syria, on the Senate floor, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015 at the Capitol in Washington. McCain stood next to an enlarged, close-up photo of Aylan Kurdi, who drowned on a voyage with his family. He said the photo has "opened the world’s eye to this devastating crisis." (US Senate Television via AP)
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House Republican leaders, worried about Islamic State attacks after Friday's killings of 129 people in France, on Tuesday threatened to suspend the administration's plans to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming year.

McCaul said legislation was necessary because the president was unlikely to halt the program.

Obama administration officials have said Syrians seeking to enter the United States undergo the toughest security screening of any group. Obama, traveling in Asia, on Tuesday called attempts to block entry "offensive and contrary to American values."

State governors who oppose Syrian immigration:

SEE ALSO: Few Americans wanted to accept Jewish refugees before World War II

On Wednesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismissed legislation urging a halt to the refugee program.

"The fact of the matter is legislation like that is much more focused on politics than it is on national security," Earnest said in an interview with MSNBC television channel.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu)

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