House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul said the U.S. has entered a new phase in the fight against terror.
Speaking at the State of Homeland Security address, McCaul said he could reveal that individuals tied to terrorist groups in Syria have already tried to gain entry into the country through the U.S. refugee program.
"Accordingly, I drafted legislation to create the most robust national security vetting process in U.S. history to screen Syrian and Iraqi refugees," he said.
Team 10 spoke with a Syrian refugee living in San Diego, who said getting out was the difference between living and dying.
"Every minute we're talking here there's people dying," said Ceko Kurd.
Thirteen years ago, Kurd escaped. Originally from Kurdistan, Syria, his family bounced around through Europe. Eventually, they resettled in the United States -- free from fear, free to live.
"Everybody wants to have a chance in life for survival," he said. "Nobody just wants to stay somewhere where they just keep getting persecuted and killed."
The process took years and thousands of dollars. Compared to the alternative, time and money seem irrelevant.
"I just want to not die, just to not die," Kurd said.
For thousands of others, that journey might never happen or become much more difficult.
McCaul called on the Senate to pass his bill on screening Syrian and Iraqi refugees, saying, "I believe the state of our homeland is increasingly not secure."
Kurd said you can’t start blaming the refugees who are coming in. He believes not everyone wants to stay and fight, some just want to be free from war.
"We are not terrorists," Kurd said. "We are running away from terror."
According to the Refugee Processing Center, 71 Syrian refugees arrived in San Diego this calendar year.
On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz announced a bill that would give any state the right to reject a refugee for security concerns.
The bill would require the federal government to give 21 days' notice to any state receiving a refugee. Federal authorities and legal experts say states lack authority in resettlements.