Polling by Rasmussen Reports, suggests Americans disagree with President Obama’s Syrian refugees program and agree with Complainant’s Representative Gowdy. “Sixty percent of likely US voters oppose the settling of Syrian refugees in the state where they live. Just 28 percent favor their states accepting refugees.
Backing up the survey is the Clarion Project, a US think tank, which highlighted safety concerns for Americans. “A new bipartisan congressional terrorism report found there isn’t a global comprehensive database of foreign jihadists who have gone to Syria to fight. It says the US doesn’t even have a national strategy against terrorist travel and ‘information about foreign fighters is crossing borders less quickly than the extremists themselves.’” NPR also reported that there are numerous intelligence concerns and that there is a more general lack of intelligence with the Syrian databases. Last month, officials from DHS told members of the Immigration Subcommittee that there is no database in Syria against which they can run a check. They said the US has no way to verify the applicants’ personal information and that fleeing refugees were purchasing known false documents.
American concerns may be well placed as this is the same president that overruled American public opinion to stay-out of Syria, but his redline calling for the removal of Assad has caused five years of war, millions of refugees, the rise of ISIS, and the uncontrolled migration to Europe; the President supported the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and welcomed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi with a $3 billion gift (Hillary Clinton personally delivered the check); the President overthrew President Ali Abdullah Sala’ah in Yemen sparking another civil war in the region and provided entre to ISIS and Iran to vie for control in Yemen.
Furthermore, the Obama administration has refused to cooperate with Russia against ISIS: a spat that dates back to the overthrow of Libya’s dictator Muammar Qadaffi, which created a power vacuum so large that Libya is no longer a functioning nation, but has become a jihadi playground and another ground zero for terrorism.
Nevertheless there is plenty of blame to distribute. For example, Congress has a knack for naming bills that suggest they are protecting Americans but that perception seems misplaced. The USA Patriot Act introduced metadata collection and warrantless searches; the USA Freedom Act was advertised as a reining-in of the Patriot Act, but all it did was legalize telephone company cooperation with warrantless searches; and now, the SAFE Act that ostensibly holds the President’s feet to the fire on refugee immigration, but in fact transfers all authority and funding to the White House, which, incidentally, just issued a new Twitter #hashtag welcoming Syrian refugees to the US.
The White House describes the SAFE Act of 2015 as “unnecessary and impractical” legislation that would hinder President Obama’s efforts to assist the world’s most vulnerable people.
The current screening process, according to, Amy Pope, Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, includes the following.
• Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks …
• All refugees, including Syrians, are admitted only after successful completion of this stringent security-screening regime …
• This screening process has been enhanced …
• Syrian refugees go through additional forms of security screening …
But now that the House has passed SAFE Act 2015 H.R. 4038 and sent it to the Senate, the White House formally announced the President would veto it. The bill, authored by Reps. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) and Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), “is untenable and would provide no meaningful additional security for the American people, instead serving only to create significant delays and obstacles in the fulfillment of a vital program that satisfies both humanitarian and national security objectives,” according to a White House statement.
“What they should be doing is accepting the bill and offering to work with all of us on both sides to make it workable,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va.
Thursday, the President’s Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, and Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, were unable to convince all Democrats to fall into line with the White House. In the end Connolly voted for the SAFE Act, citing “… a “lack of a compelling reason to vote ‘no.’” Other Democrat aides disclosed the White House efforts to unify with the President were “not going over well,” CQ Roll Call reported.
“If I was to offer [administration officials] some constructive proposals, it would be to say, ‘help members see why the [Republican] bill is going to essentially raise a threshold so that nobody’s gonna get certified. I mean, I think it’s important to make that point a little more explicit,” one of the two Muslim Congressmen, Keith Ellison, (D-Minn) said.
Other lawmakers in purple districts added “What member of Congress wants to go home to their district and say, ‘I voted against this bill to keep you safe because I didn’t want to impose more work on the bureaucracy?’”
In the end Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told members they were free to vote however they wanted. “Nobody’s asking you to do anything. Do whatever works for you, for your district,” she told reporters (she voted “no”).
During his Asian trip this week, President Obama offered a forceful defense of the refugee program and chided Republican opponents as being scared of “widows and orphans.”
“We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic,” Obama said in the Philippines on Wednesday. “We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan countered by telling reporters “this is urgent. We cannot and should not wait to act, not when our national security is at stake.”
Senator Jeff Sessions slammed the GOP plan charging that it “fails to defend the interests of the American people.”
Sessions concluded, “With immigration at a record high, deficits surging, wages flat-lining, schools overcrowding, crime rising, and terrorism threats increasing, it is time to place priority on protecting the safety of Americans and their financial security.”
“In just the last year, refugees and migrants allowed into America from Bosnia, Somalia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ghana, Kuwait and Bangladesh have been implicated in terrorism. And, as we have seen, U.S.-born children of migrants are also at risk for radicalization,” Sessions finished.