Kuster, Guinta Vote for Stricter Refugee Screening Process

Nov 20, 2015

Credit FILE

Both of New Hampshire’s Congressional representatives voted Thursday in favor of a bill to add extra screening steps for refugees resettling the United States from Syria and Iraq.

Rep. Annie Kuster, a Democrat, was one of 47 members of her party who sided with 242 Republicans to pass the bill.

In a statement provided by her office, Kuster said she voted to “strike a balance” between preserving security and compassion.

"With a thorough vetting process in place, we can assure safe passage for women, young children and elderly refugees fleeing rape and other atrocities in their war-torn land,” Kuster said. “Americans are a compassionate people and we cannot let ISIS terrorists destroy our way of life or our fundamental values."

Rep. Frank Guinta sided with a majority of his fellow Republicans in supporting the measure. In a statement, Guinta cited concerns over the potential for Islamic State terrorists to enter the country through the refugee process.

“The United States is the most generous country in the world,” Guinta said. “But security comes first.”

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The U.S. Senate hasn't yet taken up the legislation, but New Hampshire's senators will likely fall on opposite sides of the issue.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte plans to support the measure, according to spokeswoman Lauren Zelt, and wants to "ensure our refugee and visa programs, including the Visa Waiver Program, cannot be infiltrated or exploited by terrorists."

“Senator Ayotte believes the administration should revisit its refugee policy to ensure that no refugee related to the Syria crisis can be brought to New Hampshire or anywhere in the U.S. unless the government can guarantee with 100 percent certainty that they are not affiliated with ISIS," Zelt wrote in an email.

The only member of the delegation poised to oppose the refugee screening bill is Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

In a statement provided through her office, Shaheen said that while maintaining security is her "highest priority," refugees coming to the United States already "undergo more screening than any other category of individuals entering our country."

“As Congress seeks ways to improve security after the Paris attacks, these proposals need to adhere to our principles as a nation," Shaheen said. "The United States must remain welcoming and inclusive to those fleeing persecution, which is why I do not support the House bill."