Sessions: Congress must stop Obama from unilaterally lifting cap on refugees

By Rachel StoltzfoosDC NEWS

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions urged Republicans to add language to an upcoming spending bill that will block President Barack Obama from following through on his plan to unilaterally admit an extra 45,000 migrants into the U.S. in the next year.

“The barbaric attacks in Paris – an assault on civilization itself – add immense new urgency,” Sessions wrote in a letter to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, referring to a series of attacks by Islamic State Friday that left 129 dead. “Regardless of one’s view of the best policy, it cannot be disputed that Congress must reassert control over our immigration system,” he added.

The Obama administration announced in September the cap on refugees (70,000 per year) will be lifted in order to admit a total of 185,000 refugees in the next two years. A minimum of 10,000 of them will be from Syria.

Sessions proposed adding language to the must-pass spending bill that will require a separate vote on Obama’s plan to unlock the funding he’ll need to carry it out. There’s also a plan to offset the short- and long-term costs of resettlement and a list of aliens admitted to the U.S. as refugees since 2001 who have since engaged in criminal or terrorist activity.

His office has identified more than 25 foreign born individuals in the U.S. who have been charged with or convicted of terror in the past year. “The current [spending] proposal will amount to a blank check to President Obama to carry out his entire refugee resettlement plan,” he wrote.

Sessions pointed to his findings in a recent hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration he chairs to back up his proposal. Administration officials admitted in the hearing the U.S. cannot predict whether Syrian refugees are likely to join ISIS, and does not have the resources to fully vet Syrian refugees, he said.

The Obama administration estimates the resettlement program will cost $1.2 billion, but Sessions puts it closer to $55 billion in the next year alone, based on a Heritage Foundation analysis that includes welfare and entitlement costs over the long run. For that same cost, many more refugees could be helped in the Middle East than the U.S., he added.

“Absent a change in the way in which Congress provides funds for refugee admissions, processing, and related matters, this ramp-up will occur despite both public and Congressional opposition,” Sessions wrote.

A number of Republican governors, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder have said after the Paris attacks they will not accept any new refugees from Syria.

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