US official defends Syrian refugee program; House vote nears

Ed Royce, Dan Newhouse Raul Labrador, Steve King, Trent Franks
From left, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., Rep. Dan Newhouse R-Wash., Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., confer in a basement corridor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, following a meeting of the conservative Republican Study Committee ahead of legislation aimed at increasing screenings for Syrian and Iraqi refugees before they enter the U.S., including a requirement for FBI background checks. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) – A State Department official is defending America’s refugee resettlement program – hours before a House vote on legislation that would raise new hurdles for Syrian and Iraqi refugees entering the United States.

Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard tells a House Judiciary Committee panel that refugees face intensive screening by several federal intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center.

The House bill was written after Islamic State militants killed 129 people in Paris.

The measure would require the FBI to conduct background checks on Syrian and Iraqi refugees. It would require the heads of the FBI and Homeland Security Department and the director of national intelligence to certify that each refugee is not a threat to national security.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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