Is the U.S. trying to close its doors to Syrian refugees?

CCTV News

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., joined by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., center, and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., joined by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., center, and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The top Republican lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives has called for a halt to the nation’s Syrian refugee resettlement program in the wake of last week’s Paris attacks.

CCTV’s Roee Ruttenberg reports:

Republicans work to shut US borders to Syrian refugees

Republicans work to shut US borders to Syrian refugees

The top Republican lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives has called for a halt to the nation's Syrian refugee resettlement program in the wake of last week's Paris attacks. CCTV's Roee Ruttenberg reports.

Follow Roee Ruttenberg on Twitter @RoeeRuttenberg

Some of the alleged attackers had ties to Syria, and a Syrian passport was found during the investigation, raising the prospect that at least one attacker entered Europe as part of the immigration wave coming from Syria and Iraq.

Calling this a “moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry,” U.S. House Speaker, Paul Ryan, said he has assembled a task force to bring legislation to a vote as soon as this week.

“We’re looking at all of our options about how do we make sure that something like this doesn’t happen coming here to us with refugees,” Ryan said.

Migrants fear backlash after Paris attacks

[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/migrants-fear-backlash-after-paris-attacks/thumbs/thumbs_serbia-migrants_murp.jpg]480
Migrants wait to register with the police at a refugee center in the southern Serbian town of Presevo, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Refugees fleeing war by the tens of thousands fear the Paris attacks could prompt Europe to close its doors, especially after police said a Syrian passport found next to one attacker’s body suggested its owner passed through Greece into the European Union and on through Macedonia and Serbia last month. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/migrants-fear-backlash-after-paris-attacks/thumbs/thumbs_serbia-migrants_murp-2.jpg]430
Migrants family wait to register with the police in a refugee center in the southern Serbian town of Presevo, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Refugees fleeing war by the tens of thousands fear the Paris attacks could prompt Europe to close its doors, especially after police said a Syrian passport found next to one attacker’s body suggested its owner passed through Greece into the European Union and on through Macedonia and Serbia last month. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/migrants-fear-backlash-after-paris-attacks/thumbs/thumbs_serbia-migrants_murp-1.jpg]370
Migrants wait to register with the police at the refugee center in the southern Serbian town of Presevo, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Refugees fleeing war by the tens of thousands fear the Paris attacks could prompt Europe to close its doors, especially after police said a Syrian passport found next to one attacker’s body suggested its owner passed through Greece into the European Union and on through Macedonia and Serbia last month. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/migrants-fear-backlash-after-paris-attacks/thumbs/thumbs_mideast-syrian-refuge_murp.jpg]380
FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015 file photo, a Syrian refugee child sleeps in his father's arms while waiting at a resting point to board a bus, after arriving on a dinghy from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos. Bold ideas for helping Syrian refugees and their overburdened Middle Eastern host countries are gaining traction among international donors who were shocked into action by this year's migration of hundreds of thousands of desperate Syrians to Europe. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/migrants-fear-backlash-after-paris-attacks/thumbs/thumbs_mideast-syrian-refuge_murp-1.jpg]330
FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 file photo, Syrian refugee children attend a class at a makeshift school set up in a tent at an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. Bold ideas for helping Syrian refugees and their overburdened Middle Eastern host countries are gaining traction among international donors who were shocked into action by this year's migration of hundreds of thousands of desperate Syrians to Europe.(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/migrants-fear-backlash-after-paris-attacks/thumbs/thumbs_greece-migrants_murp.jpg]330
A Syrian woman holds her baby after their arrival on a small boat from the Turkish coast on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Greek authorities say 1,244 refugees and economic migrants have been rescued from frail craft in danger over the past three days in the Aegean Sea, as thousands continue to arrive on the Greek islands. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/migrants-fear-backlash-after-paris-attacks/thumbs/thumbs_congress-syrian-refug_murp.jpg]310
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., joined by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., center, and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, following a GOP strategy session. Calling this a "moment where it's better to be safe than to be sorry," Ryan said there should be a "pause" in Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. in the wake of the Paris attacks, and has assembled a task force to bring legislation to a vote as soon as this week. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/migrants-fear-backlash-after-paris-attacks/thumbs/thumbs_aptopix-greece-migran_murp.jpg]300
A Syrian man kisses his daughter shortly after disembarking from a dinghy at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from the Turkish coast, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Greek authorities say 1,244 refugees and economic migrants have been rescued from frail craft in danger over the past three days in the Aegean Sea, as thousands continue to arrive on the Greek islands. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/migrants-fear-backlash-after-paris-attacks/thumbs/thumbs_aptopix-greece-migran_murp-1.jpg]280
An Afghan woman holds a baby as other migrants sit on a bench with a local resident who reads a newspaper at Victoria square, where hundreds migrants and refugees stay temporarily before trying to continue their trip to more prosperous northern European countries, in Athens, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. More than 770,000 people have arrived in the EU by sea so far this year overwhelming border authorities and receptions centers. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
[img src=http://www.cctv-america.com/wp-content/flagallery/migrants-fear-backlash-after-paris-attacks/thumbs/thumbs_afghanistan-refugees_murp.jpg]280
In this Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, file photo, Afghan refugees gather around a fire to warm themselves from the early morning cold, after spending the night at a resting point, after arriving on a dinghy from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos. Afghans make up the second largest nationality -- after Syrians -- arriving on Europe’s shores, accounting for nearly a fifth of total arrivals, according to the U.N. Their flight is driven by despair in a country that remains mired in war and poverty despite a 14-year U.S.-led intervention and billions of dollars in international aid. And their ranks include middle and upper-class Afghans with skills needed to rebuild the war-torn country. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

As of Tuesday evening, at least 26 U.S. governors have also threatened to stop accepting Syrian refugees in the wake of last week’s Paris attacks. The governors are all members of the political party in opposition to U.S. President Barack Obama.

Lavinia Limon, president and CEO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigration, said under the Refugee Act of 1980, governors cannot legally block entry to refugees.

Each state has a refugee coordinator, a post created as part of that law, she said. Funded by the federal government, the post coordinates resettlement efforts with agencies such as her’s, and directs federal funds for refugees.

“The thing I most fear is that we will lose bipartisan support,” said a senior U.S. official on a conference call with the media who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We’ve had for this program for decades. This is a very precious thing. ”

The official said she and others in the U.S. government are speaking to many of those governors on a conference call on Tuesday to offer reassurance.

The U.S. has admitted fewer than 2,200 Syrian refugees since Oct. 1, 2011, and the process for entering this country as a refugee is 18-24 months. A little more than half of the Syrian refugees who apply are currently admitted to the United States, officials said.

Syrian refugees also receive an additional level of scrutiny, including biographical and biometric screening, which is done in person by an immigration official who has been specially trained, officials added. Iraqis applying for refuge, actually have a lot of verifiable paperwork and sometimes Syrians do too, they said.

The official said that they have to do “the best they can with the resources they have” when it comes to determining if Syrian refugees have a criminal past in their home country.

Obama administration officials insist the vetting is good and that there is no need to back down from the goal of admitting 10,000 more refugees in the next 12 months.

On Monday U.S. President Barack Obama argued that the United States needs to allow them in because many are fleeing terrorism.

To learn more about U.S. refugee admissions by country of origin or destination community, visit Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System with data on refugee admissions dating back to 2002. The organization also has a list of resettlement agency partners as well as additional information on the resettlement process.

Story by CCTV America’s Jessica Stone with information from the Associated Press.


Immigration Lawyer Rachel Wilson discusses US saying ‘no’ to Syrian refugees

CCTV America interviewed Rachel Wilson, an advocate for immigrants, about the latest calls in Congress to halt the Syrian refugee program and how migrants are now fearing a backlash after the Paris attacks.

Immigration Lawyer Rachel Wilson discusses US saying \'no\' to Syrian refugees

Immigration Lawyer Rachel Wilson discusses US saying \'no\' to Syrian refugees

CCTV America interviewed Rachel Wilson, an advocate for immigrants, about the latest calls in Congress to halt the Syrian refugee program and how migrants are now fearing a backlash after the Paris attacks.