REFUGEES: House passes WEAK bill – More action needed!

November 19, 2015

In the wake of the evil and horrific events in Paris, Congress decided to react to President Obama’s promise to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to America. The House of Representatives just passed a bill that adds an extra level of certification for refugees from Syria and Iraq. Passed by a vote of 289-107, H.R. 4038, the American SAFE Act requires additional certification – from the FBI Director, National Intelligence Director, and Secretary of Homeland Security – that each Syrian or Iraqi refugee is not a security threat before he or she is resettled in the United States.

FBI Director James Comey has testified that there is no data available to vet Syrian refugees. In the absence of this data needed to properly certify a refugee, congressional leadership argues that today’s bill effectively pauses the program. Unfortunately, this argument neglects the Obama administration’s willingness to ignore the law to accomplish its own goals. Further, this bill only pertains to individuals with documents from Iraq and Syria in spite of reports that terrorists are using forged documents for entry. Just yesterday, five Syrians were caught in Honduras attempting to enter the U.S. with stolen Greek documents.

At the end of July, Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36) introduced a bill, H.R. 3314, the Resettlement Accountability National Security Act, that would pause the Refugee Resettlement program until properly vetted for efficiency and effectiveness. The bill has gathered support from almost one-third of the Republican conference.

Yesterday evening, in an effort to improve the American SAFE Act, Rep. Babin and 15 of his colleagues [Brat, Brooks, Meadows, Duncan (SC), Barletta, Loudermilk, LaMalfa, Hice, DeSantis, Sanford, Gohmert, Culberson, Graves (LA), Garrett, and Walker] offered a modification of H.R. 3314 that would halt the resettlement program for 180 days and require a GAO study within 90 days on the economic impact on state and local government. Chairman Pete Sessions and Republican leadership rejected this and every other amendment, instead opting for a closed rule that enabled leadership to rush through H.R. 4038.

The most prudent and humanitarian response is to stop the refugee resettlement program and reallocate that funding to safe zones or refugee camps abroad. The Center for Immigration Studies reports that for the money spent to resettle one refugee in America, we could be helping twelve refugees abroad. Therefore, if the goal is to help as many people as possible while keeping America safe, Congress could choose to help twelve times more refugees in areas close to their home without increasing the security threats facing our nation.

Considering almost thirty governors, including liberal Republicans and a Democrat, have publicly announced their opposition to resettling Syrian refugees in their states, this is no time for surrender or show-votes. Government funding expires on December 11th. Congress has an opportunity to use the upcoming omnibus funding bill to deal with the refugee crisis in an efficient, cost-effective way that protects the American people.

Call your representative and senators and ask them to support adding Rep. Brian Babin’s bill, H.R. 3314, to the upcoming spending bill, with an added provision to have the money from refugee resettlement reallocated to helping refugees abroad.

Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121

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