Deutch: Syrian Refugee Bill Fails our Security and our Values
Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-21), a senior member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Ranking Democrat on the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee issued this statement regarding the H.R. 4038, legislation brought forward by House Republicans to pause the admission of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the United States:
“We have all been shaken by the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris. Dozens of constituents have called my office concerned about our national security, and justifiably so. Fear is the natural and understandable response to such terrorism.
"In the week following these heinous acts of terror, we have been engaged in a healthy debate about our safety and our values. Unfortunately, the hastily-written legislation brought to the floor today treats neither seriously enough.
"When it comes to our national security, we should absolutely reevaluate our refugee screening procedures. Four million Syrians have fled their homes to escape the barrel bombs of Bashar al Assad and the murderous rampages of ISIS. Of the seven thousand refugees interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security, a total of 2,034 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the United States after a lengthy vetting process. In light of the Paris attacks, we should reassess the way they are vetted, but let’s remember that just two percent of those admitted thus far are military aged males. A rational step forward would be to review the process that resulted in the admission of those 40 young men. Put simply, we should focus on the threat, but to close our doors on kids, their mothers and grandparents fleeing some of the most dreadful violence in the world is an unnecessary abandonment of our American values.
“At the same time this legislation compromises the values that define us as a people, it fails to strengthen our national security. In recent days, we have learned that it was Belgian citizens radicalized by ISIS who carried out these vicious attacks after traveling to and from Syria. This legislation does nothing to protect the American people from the threat of homegrown terrorists from Europe and other allied nations around the world. It does nothing to strengthen potential vulnerabilities to our travel and security protocols, such as the fact that Belgium, like all members of the European Union, are members of the U.S. visa-waiver program. Nor does it do anything to address the crisis in Syria that created so many refugees in the first place, or the ISIS terrorists who must be defeated.
“We should absolutely review and bolster our security procedures, travel policies, and refugee-screening protocols. Yet we can and we must do so in a thoughtful way that does not abandon the values that define us as Americans. Unfortunately, the hastily-written bill brought to the floor today fails to meet that test.”