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Rep. Carney among House Democrats voting to halt Syrian refugee intake

Delaware Public Media

Delaware Congressman John Carney was among those voting to support halting the admission of Syrian refugees to the U.S. without more stringent screening measures in the House of Representatives Thursday.




The House approved the measure by a 289-137 margin. Rep. Carney was among 47 Democrats voting yes.


He'd previously expressed some support for letting more refugees into the country, but says last week's ISIS attacks in Paris changed things:

"So we need to be on a heightened awareness," he says. "This additional review will help accomplish that."

Carney is particularly supportive of more screening for military-aged males who might have been recruited by ISIS -- since he says the radical group has made threats against the U.S., and he knows his constituents are worried.


The measure he voted for seeks to address that, but Carney says it shouldn't affect more vulnerable refugee populations, such as women, children and the elderly -- all of whom already face the standard, lengthy screening process.  


"Under existing law, the Department of State is required to make a determination that refugees granted asylum do not pose a threat to the country," Carney says. "This just gives an added protection and certification that that's the case."

Still, Carney has taken some heat from state Republicans for his somewhat moderate stance on refugees. But he says not many have made it through screenings yet. And he says weeding out terrorists among European citizens able to travel freely should be a priority.

"In any case, we need to be vigilant to make sure that we're keeping both regular passport-holders, as well as refugees seeking asylum, that terrorists don't sneak into the country through those various routes," Carney says.

With the refugee bill heading for the Senate, and a potential veto should it get to the President's desk, he says it's unclear what will happen to that process.

A spokeswoman for Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, meanwhile, says he plans to vote against the bill. Gov. Jack Markell has also been supportive of taking in more refugees.

Neither of them are up for reelection, while Carney is running to replace Markell next year. But Carney says he's staying focused on his work in Congress in the coming months.


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