After a wave of terrorist attacks in Paris left over 100 dead, including one American, and 300 injured, security officials in the United States are feeling increased pressure to keep the country safe while implementing President Barack Obama’s controversial refugee relocation program.
President Obama said on Monday that he intends to push forward with plans to bring upwards of 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, in spite of members of Congress expressing concerns about how those refugees are being vetted prior to entering the country.
For many national security experts, particularly Republicans, their opposition to Obama’s plan can be summed up by a 2008 quote by Alabama native and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
“They only have to be right once. We have to be right every time,” said Rice, who argued in favor of increasing U.S. security measures after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
In other words, in order to be successful, U.S. security officials must stop every single would be terrorist from slipping into the country, while the terrorists only have to infiltrate the refugee process once to be successful. At least one of the terrorists responsible for the Paris attacks was embedded in the wave of refugees France chose to absorb from the Syrian war.
Rice’s concerns from 2008 are now shared by many current elected officials in her home state.
For weeks, Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) has sought more information about the screening process Syrian refugees must undergo before being allowed to enter the U.S. He sent a letter to the State Department requesting more information and recently attended a classified briefing about the screening process. Despite the information, he believes the screening process is not strong enough to adequately protect the American people. Roughly 100 Syrian refugees are slated to be housed in Mobile, which lies within Byrne’s south Alabama congressional district.
Byrne is also co-sponsoring the Refugee Resettlement Oversight and Security Act. The bill would give Congress the power to block any refugee resettlement plan and would require Congress to approve any plan before refugees can arrive in the United States.
Governor Robert Bentley made his position on refugee relocation known Sunday night by announcing that his administration will refuse Syrian refugees scheduled to be relocated to Alabama in the coming weeks.
“After full consideration of this weekend’s attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program,” Bentley said in a statement. “As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way.”