U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) released the following statement after voting to strengthen the security screening of Syrian refugees in to the U.S.
“The attacks in Paris are frightening and a tragic reminder of the barbaric acts being carried out by Islamic State terrorists. Understandably, after those devastating attacks there’s a lot of anxiety and fear right now here at home. The U.S. has the strongest and most capable counterterrorism operations in the world. We continue to take the fight to ISIS and destroy their capabilities with over 3,000 advisors and special operations forces on the ground and conducting airstrikes every 2 ½ hours. Our goal should be to determine how best to balance the security of the American people while helping some of the world’s most vulnerable people fleeing a civil war and brutal regime.
“Today, Congress was presented with two different pieces of legislation to address the issue of Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. I supported the Democratic alternative, the Secure Refugee Process Act because it makes our existing security screening process stronger and more rigorous. While adding another level of scrutiny, it will take 18-24 months before anyone is allowed in to the U.S.The 18-24 month process is a reasonable period of time to effectively screen a refugee’s application while ensuring we are able to maintain our responsibilities as part of an international coalition that has committed to providing refuge for the most vulnerable, especially women and children.
“Republicans openly admit their goal is to completely stop the flow of Syrian women and children into the country. That is against our values of who we are as a nation. The current security process in place for screening refugees coming to the U.S. is one of the most robust and extensive in the world. It requires all Syrian and Iraqi refugees to be reviewed by at least five federal agencies and denies any application that indicates a national security or criminal threat. In addition, the current resettlement application process already triggers an additional layer of security, known as the “Syria Enhanced Review”.
“I took an oath to protect Americans at home and abroad and to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. We must continue to stay vigilant but also work to address the root of the problem behind the flow of refugees: the threat of ISIS. As Americans and as part of an international coalition, I believe we can both provide refuge for some of these most vulnerable people while also protecting the security of the American people."
President Obama has announced the U.S. will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016. Of the 10,000, about 2,000 have already been admitted - almost half are women and children and another quarter are over 60 years old. To date, zero refugees that have resettled in the U.S. have been arrested or removed on terrorism charges.