House Takes Important First Step to Mitigate Risks of Syrian Refugee Resettlement
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives took an important first step to mitigate the national security risks presented by President Obama’s plan to allow as many as 10,000 Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States in 2016.
H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015, seeks to ensure ISIS terrorists cannot infiltrate the country through the refugee resettlement program. ISIS has said it would use refugee resettlements to infiltrate western countries and launch attacks. The bill halts the resettlement of any and all Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States until:
1. The Director of the FBI certifies the background investigation of each refugee; and
2. Congress receives certification from the Secretary of Homeland Security “with the unanimous concurrence of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Director of National Intelligence” that the refugee(s) are not a threat.
U.S. Representative Roby (R-AL) supported the legislation alongside a unanimous Alabama delegation, saying the bill was an important first step toward making sure national security isn’t compromised.
“More measures will likely be necessary to stop President Obama’s plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees here, but today’s vote, less than a week after the Paris attacks, was an important first step. This strong, bi-partisan vote sends a clear message to President Obama that we have to take these risks seriously.”
Roby said President Obama’s recent rhetoric about those concerned with resettlement security risks as “recruiting tools” for ISIS was shameful and not helpful.
“President Obama’s rhetoric about the Syrian refugee situation is pretty shameful and really isn’t helping matters at all. He has predictably taken to attacking and belittling anyone who doesn’t agree with him rather than acknowledging and dealing with the actual problem at hand.
“We know terrorists based in Syria and Iraq have said they would actively game the refugee resettlement process to infiltrate western countries. Common sense Americans are rightfully concerned about this, and our Commander-in-Chief ought to be as well.”
The bill passed by a strong bi-partisan vote of 289-137, a virtual veto-proof majority. It now goes to the Senate, where many promising proposals have languished lately, Roby acknowledged.
“There is no question we have had difficulty getting the Senate to pass or even vote on good legislation lately. But, I believe the overwhelming, bi-partisan support in the House is a good indication of how strongly Americans feel about this. I’m optimistic that momentum will carry into the Senate. We really can’t afford to play political games with this.”
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ROBY WEEKLY COLUMN: Use Common Sense in Protecting the Homeland
Americans are rightfully concerned about President Obama’s decision to allow as many as 10,000 Syrian refugees to resettle here in the United States throughout 2016. Of course, everyone hates what is happening to people in Syria, and we want to help them in any way we can. However, as your Representative in Congress, my first duty is to make sure your government is doing all it can to keep the country safe. We cannot turn a blind eye to national security risks or allow those who would do us harm the ability to take advantage of our compassionate efforts.
At least one of the Paris attackers was a known extremist who was able to move back and forth from Europe to Syria via Turkey with the wave of Syrian refugees fleeing the war. Just the other day Honduras detained five Syrians who were trying to get to the U.S. with stolen Greek passports. And, don’t forget that ISIS has repeatedly warned they would actively game the refugee resettlement process to infiltrate western countries.
The United States does have a process for vetting refugees fleeing the Syrian war. However, in testimony before Congress this year, both Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey acknowledged real gaps in intelligence gathering for the vetting process for many Syrian migrants. Common sense tells us that we cannot risk our security by allowing thousands from Syria to resettle here right now without assurances that our vetting process will keep threats out.
That’s why the House acted swiftly to pass legislation that halts the resettlement of any and all refugees from Syria and Iraq until our federal authorities can certify that they do not pose a security threat. Sometimes in moments of heightened tension, bills like this can be passed in haste without due diligence. However, that is not the case here. The Homeland Security Committee has been looking at the issue all year and developed this proposal after carefully studying the Syrian crisis and our resettlement process. You can read their in-depth report at www.homeland.house.gov.
I’m disappointed that, while traveling abroad in Turkey, President Obama decided to attack and belittle Americans who have concerns about this issue rather than acknowledge and deal with the actual problem at hand. Not surprisingly, he’s already issued a veto threat of our bill. Thankfully, the bill passed with a strong bi-partisan vote of 289-137, a virtual veto-proof majority.
It now goes to the Senate, where many promising proposals have languished lately. But, I believe the overwhelming, bi-partisan support in the House is a good indication of how strongly Americans feel about this. Passing this measure was an important first step toward addressing our security situation. It also sends a clear message to the President and the Senate that we have to take these risks seriously.