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Representative Stephen Lynch tours refugee camps near Syria to see screening process firsthand

WASHINGTON -- Representative Stephen Lynch is traveling through the Middle East and Europe this week as part of his work for a House task force on refugees.

The South Boston Democrat and Oklahoma Representative Steve Russell, a Republican, visited refugee camps near the Syrian border in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to see firsthand how resettlement applicants are screened.

“I thought the refugee screening process would be chaotic and that there would be great difficulty because of the proximity of war,” Lynch said, talking by phone from Budapest, Hungary, where he had just toured a refugee camp there. “But I’ve been very impressed at the professionalism by our State Department people [and by the non-profit groups involved]. They’re very dedicated and very thorough.”


He said he participated in a mock screening himself, where officials walked him through the interviews, finger printing and retinal scan process. He also observed several real screening interviews of refugee families.

Lynch said the visit has strengthened his support of a bill that passed the House with a veto-proof majority in November that would have added additional screening for refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Senate Democrats blocked the bill Wednesday.

“I think it is worth the effort for us to have additional screening for any refugee that is coming to the U.S.,” Lynch said. “It might add a month to the process … but that extra bit of safety is worth it.”

Sophia Bollag can be reached at