Scott Statement on Syrian & Iraqi Refugee Bill

November 19, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement on his opposition to H.R. 4038, the American SAFE Act of 2015, which would effectively stop the admission of properly vetted Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the United States:

“Our nation continues to stand with the people of France in the wake of last week’s horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, and we must be vigilant in ensuring that a similar attack does not happen on our shores.  Unfortunately, the bill considered in the House of Representatives today preys on the fear of the American people and would unjustly shut out the most vulnerable Syrians and Iraqis fleeing from the unimaginable violence overrunning their countries. 

“In contrast to the refugees entering Europe, refugees who are resettled in the United States go through a rigorous, multi-agency, multi-step vetting process that can take 18 to 24 months, during which time the refugee seeking resettlement is required to remain in a refugee camp.  The overwhelming majority of those that make it through the process are women and children, survivors of violence and torture, and those with severe medical conditions.  I am not convinced that the current vetting process is insufficient, but if improvements need to be made, Congress should first hold hearings and thoroughly review the process before bringing a bill to the floor merely because it is politically advantageous. 

“There is also inconclusive evidence that the attackers in Paris were refugees.  The authenticity of a Syrian passport found near the body of one of the suicide bombers is disputed, and the evidence gathered so far indicates that all the identified attackers were French and Belgian nationals.  As for refugees in the United States, of the two million refugees welcomed into our country since 1990, including hundreds of thousands from the Middle East, not one has committed an act of terrorism on American soil. 

“So denying refuge to women and children, survivors of violence and torture, and those with severe medical conditions by adding untenable requirements to an already rigorous vetting process, as H.R. 4038 would do, we would be doing nothing to address the threat posed by ISIL and would likely only be playing into their hands.  This is an international humanitarian crisis and the United States has a moral obligation to step up and help, as we have done time and time again.”

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