Republican lawmakers take aim at Syrian refugee plan

The assault on Paris has sparked widespread calls from congressional Republicans to end or limit U.S. refugee admissions from Syria, with some threatening to use critical spending legislation as leverage just weeks from a must-pass deadline.

The issue looms as a sudden and unexpected challenge to new House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who faces a Dec. 11 deadline to pass a package of spending bills or risk a partial government shutdown. The legislation was already tricky because of the potential for policy fights on issues like Planned Parenthood and the environment, and now some conservatives want to include language requiring congressional approval of any refugee plan.

That could allow Republicans to block President Barack Obama's goal of bringing 10,000 more Syrian refugees to the U.S. during this budget year.

Several U.S. governors are threatening to halt efforts to allow Syrian refugees into their states in the aftermath of the coordinated attacks in Paris, though an immigration expert says they have no legal authority to do so.

The governors are responding to heightened concerns that terrorists might use the refugees as cover to sneak across borders. Authorities said a Syrian passport was found near one of the attackers, and the Paris prosecutors' office says fingerprints from the attacker match those of someone who passed through Greece in October.

Millions of Syrians have fled to neighboring Middle Eastern countries and Europe, and President Barack Obama's administration has pledged to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next 12 months. The U.S. State Department said the refugees would be spread across the country. Republican presidential candidates have criticized the plan.

In response to the calls from governors to prevent Syrian refugees from coming to their states, Lavinia Limon, president and CEO of the U.S Committee for Refugees and Immigration, said under the Refugee Act of 1980, governors cannot legally block refugees from settling in their communities.

LIST: Which governors are trying to halt, question plan to accept refugees
Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.