Langevin: GOP bill adds more checks and balances to refugee vetting process

Congressman Jim Langevin speaks during an interview on WPRI 12's Newsmakers in May 2015.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — One week after ISIS claimed responsibility for several terror attacks in Paris, the United States remains divided over how to handle the massive influx of Syrian refugees who are hoping to come into the country.

The attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 – which included gunfire and suicide bombers at several different locations across the city – left more than 120 people dead.

Since then, lawmakers across the country have been at odds over how to move forward in America.

Congressman Jim Langevin said he used his own judgement Thursday when he voted in favor of GOP legislation that would suspend the program allowing Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the U.S. – until national security agencies certify they do not post a security risk.

The congressman told Eyewitness News Friday he does not want to keep refugees from finding asylum in America – he just wants to give more checks and balances to the system.

“Well, I understand the argument on the other side as well. And again it was a judgement call and I respect those who came up with a different conclusion,” Langevin said.

The bill, called the American Safe Act of 2015, passed 289-137. Langevin is one of 47 Democrats that joined the Republicans – creating a majority that could override President Barack Obama’s promised veto.

The push for the bill came after a Syrian refugee passport was linked to a terrorist in the Paris attacks.

Sen. Jack Reed explained to Eyewitness News the process already in place to vet refugees coming into the states.

“There’s multiple reviews by the Department of Homeland Security. Face to face interviews, collaboration and cross checking with other federal agencies,” Reed said. “There has to be a careful review of the procedures. They’re rather elaborate.”

According to Reed, the process to become a refugee in the U.S. takes about two years to complete.

President Obama, while defending the current law, accused those in favor of the bill of being scared of “widows and orphans.”

Langevin said he only voted for the bill because it adds more to the vetting process.

“If it was going to shut down the program in any way, I wouldn’t have supported it,” the congressman said. “But it just adds more checks and balances and it allows Syrian refugees to come here once they are fully vetted.”

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