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Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee and future chief of staff for President-elect Donald Trump, dismissed criticism that legislators from his party and Trump were at odds on a series of issues.
During the presidential campaign, Trump disagreed with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans over mass deportations, trade, Social Security and Medicare, said Steve Rattner, a former adviser to President Barack Obama and an economic analyst on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
"How are you guys going to resolve those conflicts?" Rattner asked Priebus on the Nov. 14 show.
"Well, there's not that many, the conflicts aren't as great as you're outlining," Priebus responded. "President-elect Trump's immigration policies are very similar to policies that are sitting right in the Senate and the House today, to temporarily suspend immigration from countries that harbor terrorism, to temporarily suspend immigration from Syria until we get better vetting. That's not extreme, that's exactly what is in the House today."
Is Priebus right? We decided to check whether there currently are immigration policies in Congress similar to Trump’s proposals.
Trump’s immigration policies
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to build a wall to stop illegal immigration and to be tough on people who violated immigration laws. While he was inconsistent about his plans for the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally, he was firm on deporting criminals. Trump also said he would limit legal immigration because "immigration flows are too large to perform adequate screening."
Trump repeatedly criticized his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, for wanting to increase the number of refugees admitted into the United States from Syria, a country afflicted by terrorism.
"When I am elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we understand how to end these threats," Trump said June 13, 2016.
In December 2015, Trump called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." That comment came after a deadly attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
In his 10-point immigration plan, Trump said he would "suspend the issuance of visas to any place where adequate screening cannot occur, until proven and effective vetting mechanisms can be put into place."
We reached out to the Republican National Committee, chaired by Priebus, to find out which congressional policies specifically mirror Trump’s immigration proposals. We did not get a response from the committee or from the House Republican Conference. So we did some digging on our own.
A bill called the American SAFE Act of 2015 was introduced in the House a year ago, calling for additional screening of "covered aliens," to ensure they are not a threat to national security.
The bill defines a "covered alien" as a person applying for admission as a refugee and who is a national or resident of Iraq or Syria; has no nationality and whose last habitual residence was in Iraq or Syria; or has been present in Iraq or Syria at any time on or after March 1, 2011.
Individuals cannot be admitted as refugees until the FBI director certifies to the Secretary of Homeland Security and to the National Intelligence director that background investigations sufficiently determined they are not a threat to national security, the bill said.
A refugee may also only be admitted after the Secretary of Homeland Security -- in unanimous agreement with the directors of the FBI and National Intelligence -- certifies to 12 "appropriate Congressional Committees" that the person is not a national security threat.
The American SAFE Act of 2015 was introduced by Rep. Michael T. McCaul, R-Texas, and co-sponsored by 102 Republicans and one Democrat. It passed the House Nov. 19, 2015, with a 289-137 vote and stalled in the Senate in January.
Another House bill, Give States a Chance Act of 2015, was introduced November 2015 to allow governors to refuse the placement of Syrian refugees in their respective states if they certify they are "not reasonably satisfied" that the refugee does not pose a security threat.
Under that bill, the governor could also refuse a refugee if he or she "has not properly been informed of the intended sponsorship process for the refugee" and if the governor determines that the proposed resettlement location "is inappropriate because the proportion of refugees and comparable entrants" in the area is too high.
Thirteen Republicans co-sponsored the bill introduced by Rep. Ted S. Yoho, R-Fla. It’s been referred to the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
This summer, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) also introduced in the House the Resettlement Accountability National Security Prioritization Act of 2016, to "suspend, and subsequently terminate, the admission of certain refugees."
The bill is directed to nationals of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen; or people who have no nationality and whose last habitual residence was in those specific countries.
Forty-nine Republicans co-sponsored the bill, which would also evaluate the costs of benefits provided to refugees and their impact on national security.
Babin’s bill to suspend admission of refugees sounds like what Priebus was talking about, said Steven Camarota, director of research at Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank favoring stricter immigration policies.
Priebus said, "President-elect Trump's immigration policies are very similar to policies that are sitting right in the Senate and the House today, to temporarily suspend immigration from countries that harbor terrorism, to temporarily suspend immigration from Syria until we get better vetting."
Trump's policies include ending sanctuary cities, deporting at least 2 million people and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, not just restrictions on refugees.
As for the restrictions, a bill passed in the House that is designed to increase screening of potential refugees from Iraq and Syria. The bill also called for certifications that ensure potential refugees are not a threat to the security of the United States. But it has stalled in the Senate.
Two other House bills restricting the admission and resettlement of refugees have not been voted on either, so their outcome and support is still to be determined.
We rate Priebus’ statement Mostly True.https://www.sharethefacts.co/share/f40b918e-faf3-4f51-8678-fc939998891f
Donald Trump campaign website, Immigration
Donald Trump campaign website, Donald J. Trump addresses terrorism, immigration, and national security, June 13, 2016
MSNBC, Reince Priebus interview on Morning Joe, Nov. 14, 2016
Congress.gov, H.R.4078 - Give States a Chance Act of 2015
PolitiFact, Wrong: Donald Trump says there's 'no system to vet' refugees, June 13, 2016
PolitiFact, PolitiFact Sheet: Donald Trump’s immigration plan, Nov. 9, 2016
PolitiFact, Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton wants to let 500 percent more Syrians into the U.S., June 13, 2016
PolitiFact, Trump says U.S. admits 100,000 "permanent immigrants" annually from Middle East, Aug. 19, 2016
PolitiFact, Trump: Nearly '180,000 illegal immigrants' have criminal records but haven't been deported, July 22, 2016
PolitiFact, How Trump plans to build, and pay for, a wall along U.S.-Mexico border, July 26, 2016
PolitiFact, As Donald Trump prepares immigration speech, mass deportation at issue, Aug. 30, 2016
Email exchange, Steven Camarota, director of research at Center for Immigration Studies, Nov. 17, 2016
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