Obama administration writes to Gov. Hogan on Syrian refugees

WASHINGTON -- Refugees from Syria undergo an "extraordinary thorough and comprehensive" screening process that is "multi-layered and intensive" senior officials in the Obama administration wrote to Gov. Larry Hogan in a letter this week.

"We want to emphasize that no one has a right to be resettled in the United States as a refuge," according to the five-page letter, which was obtained Saturday by The Baltimore Sun. "If the expert screener fails to be satisfied…the applicant will not be resettled in the United States."

The letter, the latest effort by the Obama administration to ease concerns about Syrian refugees following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, was signed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. It was dated Friday.

Hogan has joined a group of mostly Republican governors requesting that the federal government halt the resettlement of additional refugees. Hogan asked for resettlements to be stopped until the U.S. government can provide assurances refugees are thoroughly vetted.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford also participated in a phone call Tuesday on the issue with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

Prior to the Paris attacks, the Obama administration had vowed to increase the number of refugees to 10,000 from roughly 2,000 this year -- a response to pressure from relief organizations and others that the U.S. government wasn’t doing enough to help address the crisis.

The president has said he remains committed to that figure, despite legislation approved by the House this week that would require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to take a more active role in screening refugees. That proposal appears unlikely to advance in the Senate.

In the letter, Kerry and Johnson detail the multi-step process refugee applicants must submit to before being considered for resettlement. That process can take as long as two years to complete, and is far more rigorous than those employed in Europe.

"Applicants for refugee admission are screened more carefully than any other type of traveler to the United States," the letter read. "We have tremendous faith in this system's ability to detect, investigate and disrupt terrorist plotting in this country, as it has done repeatedly."

About 70,000 refugees will be resettled in the United States this year. Between 2010 and 2014, Maryland took in 6,700 refugees, with Baltimore taking the largest share.

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