Congressmen representing Antioch offer statements on their opposition to Syrian Refugee Bill that passed House

The Syrian Refugee Bill, HR 4038, passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, increasing the requirements for screening refugees from that country. Both Congressmen representing Antioch, Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Jerry McNerney (CA-9), voted against it. President Obama has promised to veto the bill, should it pass the Senate. However, according to CNN, “The vote was 289-137, with 47 Democrats joining 242 Republicans in favor of the bill, creating a majority that could override President Barack Obama’s promised veto.”

DeSaulnier issued the following statement in response to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and the legislation to change the existing U.S. refugee admission process:

Ensuring the safety and security of our nation and its people is our top priority. As an American with French ancestry, two countries that were founded on the ideals of liberty, I am proud that historically we have been faithful to both.

I stand with the President to enhance our security and to reinforce our values. Today’s political maneuver would undermine these goals and immediately halt refugee admissions from Syria by making the vetting process unnecessarily duplicative and onerous. We currently have a process for admitting refugees that is extensive, selective, and demanding.

Specifically, vetting includes biometric and biographic checks, medical screenings, and interviews. Further, refugees’ applications are scrutinized with criteria specific to circumstances unique to the conflicts in their countries and the region. Multiple federal agencies work together with the United Nations on every U.S. application. With this screening, not a single one of the 2,174 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States since September 11, 2001 has been arrested or deported on terrorism-related grounds.

This bill would do nothing to keep the United States safe, and would hurt refugees who are fleeing the very terrorists we are trying to protect against. As we continue to strengthen our approach to potential threats, we must focus on efforts that do, in fact, provide greater security while standing by the ideals of freedom and compassion upon which our country was built.”

McNerney issued the following statement on his vote to oppose H.R. 4038:

My highest priority as a member of Congress is the safety and security of the people in my district, and the protection of all Americans. The horror and tragedy of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris have echoed around the world, and serve as a stark reminder that we must do everything possible to keep our country safe. Any actions or policies that we advance in response to the brutality and hatred we’ve seen in Europe and the Middle East should bolster the security of our nation, and promote greater safety for our people. These efforts should reflect our American values, and our position as a leader in the international community.

Currently, refugees considered for entry into the United States, no matter their country of origin, must undergo an extensive and robust screening process. These procedures include multiple layers of safeguards; screenings and background checks to ensure that an applicant meets all the requirements set forth by national security agencies, and does not pose a threat to the United States. Under the current system, those conditions must be met for an applicant to be admitted, in a process that typically takes 18 to 24 months. Our efforts should focus on continuing to improve upon and strengthen current protocols. Instead, H.R. 4038 puts roadblocks in place that would hinder the government’s ability to ensure proper implementation of the existing system that has kept Americans safe since its creation after 9/11.

Although H.R. 4038 sounds tough, I am concerned that it will do the opposite of what its intended by bringing the current working system to a halt, thereby freezing refugees – many who are women and children – in a state of hopelessness, potentially creating more radicalized individuals and weakening our international coalition to fight ISIS. Moreover, H.R. 4038 legislates from a place of fear and does not reflect our core American values that make America the greatest nation in the world.

For these reasons I opposed H.R. 4038. Only by standing together can we drive out the darkness, confront extremism, and hold a firm line against ISIS and all terrorism.”

2 Comments to “Congressmen representing Antioch offer statements on their opposition to Syrian Refugee Bill that passed House”

  1. Arne says:

    Both Congressmen are not representing the feelings of their constituents; but are instead following the advice of Nancy Pelosi 🙁

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