A House panel plans to continue its hearing Wednesday on a bill co-sponsored by an Idaho congressman to put more restrictions on letting refugees into the United States.
The Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., would set a limit of 50,000 a year on refugee admissions, and Congress would have to vote to raise this number. This is about half the number of refugees who were allowed into the country during the later years of Barack Obama's presidency. The bill would also let states and local governments opt out of refugee resettlement, and it would make security-related changes such as requiring review of refugees applicants’ social media posts and regular vetting of refugees who are admitted to the country until they become permanent residents.
Goodlatte and Labrador introduced a similar bill last year as well, but its chances of becoming law now would seem higher now that Donald Trump, who in rhetoric and executive orders has expressed support for similar ideas, is president. The hearing comes on the heels of a Monday U.S. Supreme Court ruling that reinstated much of an executive order of Trump's that has been on hold since March that restricts travel from six Middle Eastern and African countries for 90 days and puts a 120-day halt on refugee resettlement. The highest court will hear arguments on the executive order in October.
The House Judiciary Committee hearing on Labrador and Goodlatte's bill started last Wednesday. Here are the transcript, starting on page 257, and video of the first day. The committee shot down an attempt by its Democratic members to strike the part letting states and municipalities opt out of refugee resettlement and approved an amendment offered by Iowa Republican Steve King that would let voters, as well as state and local executives or legislatures, vote on whether to ban refugee resettlement. Refugee resettlement opponents tried to get a similar ballot initiative together in Twin Falls last year but came up short on signatures; at the time, there were questions about the proposal's legality, although presumably if this law passes voters would be able to ban refugee resettlement in their jurisdiction.
The hearing is scheduled to continue Wednesday at 8 a.m. Mountain time (10 a.m. Eastern) and can be viewed online here.