Saturday, January 23, 2016
Open door for refugees endangers Americans
The Washington Post has extensively reported on the thriving black market for Syrian passports. People from Egypt, Iran, India, Albania, Somali, Kosovo, Pakistan and Tunisia have all falsely identified as Syrian to attempt to gain entry into Europe or the United States.
Just weeks after the terrorist attack at San Bernardino, two suspected terrorists who came in as Iraqi refugees were apprehended in Sacramento and Houston. That same night, another man shot at a Philadelphia officer 13 times in the name of radical Islam. Yet the Obama administration continues to allow thousands of refugees — with the same insufficient vetting that resulted in San Bernardino — to flood our borders. Their plans to bring in refugees from war-torn Islamic nations not only make our country less secure, but endanger American lives.
Terrorist groups, including ISIS, are working to infiltrate Syrian and Iraqi refugees to get the visas that will allow them to hatch terror attacks in the West. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently admitted that this refugee infiltration is a “huge concern of ours.” We know that as many as 10-15 percent of the refugee population, who are fleeing the Assad regime rather than the Islamic State, sympathize with ISIS.
There’s also the problem of limited or fraudulent documentation for those seeking refugee status. The Washington Post has extensively reported on the thriving black market for Syrian passports. People from Egypt, Iran, India, Albania, Somali, Kosovo, Pakistan and Tunisia have all falsely identified as Syrian to attempt to gain entry into Europe or the United States.
Experts like former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and former House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers agree that the lack of credible documentation makes it impossible to fully screen out Islamist terrorists. FBI Director James Comey admitted as much under oath last year to the House Homeland Security Committee. At the hearing he explained, "We can query our databases until the cows come home, but nothing will show up because we have no record of that person…You can only query what you have collected."
At the same time the government inadequately screens those with the potential to cause the greatest harm to its citizens, it turns a blind eye to those individuals in greatest need of refuge by failing to prioritize refugees who would be the least likely to be terrorists. In fact, since the Syrian Civil War broke out, the United States has admitted 2,693 refugees – of whom only 53 were Christians, and 33 were other non-Muslim sects.
Yet, even with these shocking weaknesses and omissions, the administration intends to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees next year and tens of thousands more in the coming years.
The Obama Administration has no foolproof vetting process, and this is tantamount to rolling out a welcome mat for terrorists to this country. That’s not just our conclusion – it’s the conclusion of sheriffs, county councils, police chiefs and governors from around the country and our home states. Furthermore, thousands of Americans and concerned parents have contacted us to share their concerns about their own neighborhoods and the safety of their own children.
That’s why we have together introduced legislation that would empower states to use their Tenth Amendment authority to opt out of the national refugee resettlement program. Our legislation requires the federal government to inform states of its intent to settle aliens within their borders, and allows governors to reject those aliens if a governor believes that the refugee presents a security risk.
This is why we also support a moratorium in the refugee program from high-risk countries, at the very least until we are confident in our vetting process and we have seen progress in destroying the Islamic State.
Persecuted Christians deserve refuge. The best way to help these Syrian refugees is in their own region, not moving them 10,000 miles from home to have to adjust to new cultures. This might be achieved by creating a safe zone for the refugee population in, for example, the Nineveh plains, until the Civil War is ended.
The United States can and should remain the world’s most generous and compassionate nation. But our self-preservation dictates that we know who we are allowing into our country -- and that we keep ISIS terrorists out. Our children’s safety tomorrow depends on our ability to secure America today.
Jeff Duncan represents the South Carolina's 3rd Congressional District in the House of Representatives. Ted Cruz represents Texas in the U.S. Senate and is a Republican candidate for president.