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White House Promises to Veto Bill to Close US Borders to Syrian Refugees

By Ann-Marie Adams I The Hartford Guardian

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama recently vowed to veto the Republican-led House of Representative’s effort to curb the influx of refugees fleeing the Islamic state of Syria and Iraq.

The White House issued a statement on Wednesday saying that President Obama would veto the legislation, which has support from both parties. The House’s 246 Republicans supported the bill, which passed 289 to 137. Forty-seven Democrats supported it. This is sufficient to override a presidential veto.

The bill would require that the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence said that refuges from Syria and Iraq poses no threat once they submit to a thorough background check.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called for a balance between safety and freedom as law enforcement agencies increased security after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

“In our efforts to enhance the security of the homeland, we must not compromise our values as a free and open society,” said Johnson during remarks at a cybersecurity event on Wednesday.

According to the State Department,  1,869 Syrians have entered the United States since October 2014.  The bulk of those, 1,682, came during 2015.

Congressman Paul Rand, (R-Kentucky) said he would impose measures that block these and other high-risk refugees from tax-benefits.

But other members of Congress objected to the draconian laws to curtail the number of Syrian Refugees entering the United States.

“Defeating terrorism should not mean slamming the door in the faces of those fleeing the terrorists,” said. “We might as well take down the Statute of Liberty.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was one of six governors who said he would welcome Syrian refugees into their state. To date, 31 governors agreed to accommodate Syrian refugees.

“We have the toughest process in the world about allowing refugees into our country. That’s the reality,” Malloy said. “By the way, let’s be very clear. No one is taking a raft from Turkey to get to the United States. We control this situation to a higher degree than any European country can at the current moment.”

White House officials in a 90-minute call with 34 governor’s reiterated that Obama’s top priority is the safety of the American people.

While in the Philippines this week, President Obama responded to Republicans’ quest to close the US boarders to Syrian refugees.

“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric coming out of here in the course of this debate. It’s counterproductive and it needs to stop,” Obama said.

On Wednesday,  Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sharply criticized Obama’s treatment of his stance on not wanting to admit Syrian refugees into the United States, and challenged him to a debate.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) plans to block the House bill if it reaches the upper chamber after the Thanksgiving recess.

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