Thursday, 21 January, 2016

Senate Dems press for vote on religious test for immigrants

US Senate Democrats block Syria refugee bill from advancing
Dana Christensen | 21 January, 2016, 01:31

Syrian refugees could soon find themselves locked out of the United States, as the Senate is expected to take up legislation this week that would effectively put a "pause" on further immigration until the USA government can attain a higher level of certainty that they aren't a threat to the country's security.

The bill would, in fact, target widows and orphans, because it would stop all Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the US, not just men.

(McConnell) "I would suggest they're motivated by the love of their families and communities".

"We need to move cautiously in accepting refugees from Iraq and Syria given the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino", Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican who leads the Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has said the bill won't meet the number of Democratic cross-over votes needed to pass.

Audio clip: Listen to audio clip.

But in Congress and on the campaign trail, many Republicans are treating the House GOP proposal - backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and supported by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. - as a reasonable middle ground between Barack Obama's plans to expand Syrian refugee resettlement, and Donald Trump's proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from the United States.

Democrats are considering voting to take up the bill so they can try to improve it through amendments.

"Unless and until the United States can figure out a foolproof screening process to prevent terrorists from masquerading as refugees to infiltrate our neighborhoods and communities, President Obama needs to listen to the concerns voiced by more than half the nation's governors, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on both sides of Capitol Hill, and the American people from across the entire country", he said.

While the fight for this bill continues, it's been noted how this bill plays a significant political issue, as Republicans blame Obama for failing to do the necessary actions for the country's security versus Democrats accusing the GOP for simply wanting to score points from voters. But they are also weighing whether to use it to force votes on Trump's proposals. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, returned to Washington to vote to advance the bill. Sen.

The House, where Republicans have more power, voted in favor of similar legislation in 2015.

The letter says the bill places a new focus on rehabilitation and correction and amends sentencing policies that it says "produced unintended consequences and created imbalance in the scales of justice".

Refugees of all nationalities, including Syrians and Iraqis, already face a demanding screening process, and the legislation "would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world", the statement said. Affected refugees would mainly include those who are citizens or residents of Iraq or Syria.

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