DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- There are real fears of an ISIS infiltration of refugees in the US and any number of countries, which President Obama's Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has acknowledged.
And that admission is something 6th Congressional candidate Adam Barringer, R-New Smyrna Beach, is following closely as he campaigns throughout Volusia, Flagler, Lake and St. Johns counties.
"The Department of Homeland Security Chief "finally" admits what we’ve feared: Terrorists could enter the United States through our refugee programs," Barringer, the former New Smyrna Beach mayor told Headline Surfer® while campaigning Thursday in Daytona Beach.
"We need a new process to vet these individuals that puts the safety and security of American citizens first."
Exactly how to go about doing this is not something anyone has really been able to figure out, though, Barringer, the moderate Republican frontrunner readily stated, though he said with growing calls for outright bans on Syrian refugees into the US, perhaps a more realistic approach is continuing to work with Middle Eastern countries like Jordan to expand safe zones.
For the first time, the Obama Administration is recognizing the reality of terrorist infiltration of Syrian refugee populations re-settling either in the US or a multitude of European countries like Germany, France and Great Britain.
“We do have to be concerned about the possibility that a terrorist organization may seek to exploit our refugee resettlement process,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday. “This is true of this country, that’s true of every other country that accepts refugees.”
Johnson stressed that the Obama administration is continuing to reevaluate the program, and has done so with refugees from Iraq and Syria. He made the comments while officially updating the DHS terrorism alert system -- issuing a bulletin reminding Americans about the ongoing concerns regarding an attack on U.S. soil.
“As we saw in the recent attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, terrorists will consider a diverse and wide selection of targets for attacks,” the bulletin said.
The comments are likely to fuel the Capitol Hill push for changes to the refugee vetting system. And that is something Barringer said he's going to follow very closely, based on feedback of local constituents he's talking with as he campaigns for the seat that Ron DeSantis will vacate the end of next year as the St. Augustine Republican is running for US Sen. Marco Rubio's seat.
And of course, Rubio is among the crowded field of candidates in the Republican Party running for president behind frontrunner Donald Trump.
While Barringer said he's not yet sold on any one candidate he is taking notes on Trump and the two Sunshine State candidates, Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
If there's one common denominator Barringer said has been the refrain among local citizens, it's genuine fear.
"Since the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, people I have met in different areas of the district, from DeLand to Palm Coast and Mount Dora to DeBary, are afraid of another terrorist attack, especially as we get closer to Christmas. They're definitely more aware of the potential."