Murkowski Urges President to Immediately Institute Moratorium on Admitting Syrian Refugees to the United States

Today U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski issued the following statement in response to concerns over whether or not to allow Syrian refugees into the United States:

“I urge the President to agree to an immediate moratorium on granting asylum to Syrian refugees. A moratorium is necessary for the Congress and the American people to better understand the adequacy of our existing refugee vetting process and whether meaningful additional steps need to be taken when considering the applications of Syrian refugees. My view is that the security of Alaskans and all Americans must come first.         

“Over the past 24 hours I have heard from Alaskans who are fearful that the United States intends to imminently admit thousands of Syrian refugees, without adequate vetting, at the risk of our national security. This does not appear to be the case. Asylum applications can take up to two years to process; sometimes longer.

“I have also heard from leaders of our faith communities who argue the moral dimensions of the issue. They are deeply troubled that the U.S. is about to turn away innocent families, fleeing war and persecution, due to a misunderstanding about the rigorous process that has historically been used to determine which of a fortunate few will be given refugee status in the United States.

“After initially proposing to admit up to 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, the administration did a poor job at explaining how the refugee resettlement process works and addressing concerns that the U.S. will not have access to sufficient information to determine the security risks associated with admitting a particular person or family. The administration has done little to remedy this lack of clarity in the wake of the events in Paris. The events last weekend in Paris give rise to legitimate concerns that terrorists will enter the United States posing as refugees.

“It is not surprising that the first instinct of Governors and their citizens would be ‘too risky.’ People are legitimately skeptical that the United States will not have adequate information about this group of asylum seekers to make an informed decision. Syria has long been a closed society and the destructive civil war has done little to ensure that necessary records will be available.

“The difficult national conversation that has been taking place over the past 72 hours may leave some of those who have been resettled in Alaska with the misimpression that the American people are no longer sympathetic or welcoming. Nothing could be further than the truth. Alaska takes great pride in its diverse population.  I am personally proud of the work of Catholic Social Services of Alaska, and their dedicated volunteers, in administering our state’s refugee resettlement program and wish those who have benefited from the refugee resettlement program well in establishing their new lives in America.”