WASHINGTON -- Rep. Peter King charged Friday that American lives will be put at risk because federal authorities aren't equipped to conduct terrorist screenings on the 10,000 Syrian refugees whom President Barack Obama has ordered to be admitted into the United States over the next year.
King, the Seaford Republican, raised his concerns on the same day that Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) and 75 other House Democrats sent a letter to Obama urging him to boost the number of Syrian refugees admitted to 100,000.
In the past year, the United States has accepted about 1,500 of the 4 million Syrians fleeing violence in their home country.
"What I've seen and speaking to people involved in the screening, I don't how they're going to go from 1,500 to 10,000," King said. "We know that ISIS wants to infiltrate its people through refugees."
Yet, he said, the United States has no intelligence officials or anybody else on the ground in Syria and no way to check refugees' backgrounds.
Asked about those concerns on Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, "Refugees go through the most robust security process of anybody who's contemplating travel to the United States."
Over 12 to 18 months, he said, refugees are screened by counterterrorism, FBI, Homeland Security and intelligence officials and databases; have to give biographical and biometric data; and must submit to interviews.