As President Barack Obama continues to seek public support for yet another controversial foreign policy initiative, in Alabama, his plan to raise the cap on refugees allowed into the country is instead garnering stern reproach from elected officials.
The president, via Secretary of State John Kerry, recently rolled out a plan to gradually increase the annual cap on refugees allowed into the country from foreign soil to 100,000, up from 70,000 today.
Alabama’s junior senator Sen. Jeff Sessions, on Monday took to the rostrum in the Capitol to excoriate Obama’s plan, saying the U.S. had already taken in some 1.5 million immigrants from Muslim nations since the attacks of September 11 and that given our federal deficit, that is plenty for the time being.
“The U.S. has already taken in four times more immigrants than any other nation on Earth. Our foreign-born population share is set to break every known historical record,” inveighed Sessions.
“Ninety percent of recent refugees from the Middle East living in our country are receiving food stamps and approximately 70 percent are receiving free healthcare and cash welfare. All of the nearly 200,000 refugees the Administration is planning to bring over the next two years would be entitled to these same benefits the moment they arrive.”
“Since we are running huge deficits, every penny of these billions in costs will have to be borrowed and added to the debt,” Sessions added.
He is far from alone in his opposition, especially among fellow southern Republicans.
Congressman Bradley Byrne on Tuesday issued an announcement detailing his recent letter to the State Department citing concerns – echoed by Sessions and conservative columnist Rich Lowry in Monday’s New York Post among others – surrounding the nation’s limited capacity for vetting the incoming refugees.
“Terrorist groups have made clear they intend to use the refugee process to infiltrate our country, and I have serious concerns about increasing the number of allowed refugees,” wrote Byrne in a letter to the department’s Bureau of Population, Rufugees, and Migration.
So far, the U.S. has only accepted 1,500 refugees from Syria since the civil conflict began there four years ago.
Millions have been displaced, largely looking to resettle in Turkey – which has taken in some 2 million Syrian refugees – or in continental Europe. Germany for instance, expects to take in up to 1 million refugees this year.
The U.S. announced plans earlier this week to contribute some $419 million in aid to European and Middle Eastern countries which have taken the brunt of the mass exodus out of war-torn Syria.