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November 19, 2015

Rep. Schiff Statement on Bill to Halt Syrian Refugee Program

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after voting against H.R. 4038, the American SAFE Act:

“Concerns about security after the nightmare we saw in Paris are understandable, and safety must come first. As the Ranking Member on the Intelligence Committee, I continually review the dangers facing the country and our vulnerabilities and what I can say is this: There are persistent threats to the country from ISIS, Al Qaeda and homegrown extremists, but they do not come from women and children fleeing the violence in Syria. 

"On average, it takes one and a half to two years to be vetted and come to the United States as a refugee. Of the approximately 2,000 Syrian refugees resettled in the United States since the civil war began in that country, none has been arrested for a terrorism related offense. None. 

“Refugees, and refugees from this region specifically, already undergo a far more rigorous screening process than anyone else seeking admission to this country, including multiple layers of background checks, in-depth national security vetting, biometric identifiers, and in-person interviews. Additional precautions, if warranted, can always be taken, but none require us to halt the refugee process entirely as the current bill would do. 

"If we want to improve security – and we must – we should concentrate on our real vulnerabilities, at our airports, with Americans and Europeans who have joined the fight in Syria and Iraq and could come here as citizens or tourists without a visa, and on the fringes of society where people are at risk of being inspired by ISIS to commit acts of violence. We should not bar the door to people fleeing ISIS violence, often religious minorities, who have nowhere else to go. America is a strong and compassionate country and we must not be deterred from acts of humanity by acts of barbarity."