Today, underscoring that the federal government must rigorously vet and verify the identities of refugees, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) took steps to halt the President’s unilateral actions to admit tens of thousands of unverified Syrian refugees into the United States. Tipton urged that the focus instead be on moving forward with alternative options to protect the refugees, including establishing safe-zones within Syria.
“We should show compassion to the innocent victims of war and do what we can to provide security and an opportunity for them to rebuild their lives. There are
options, including establishing safe-zones within Syria, to help ensure the wellbeing of Syrian refugees without risking Americans’ safety. Those are solutions we should be focused on, rather than on admitting tens of thousands of refugees without the capacity to verify who they are, thereby creating a serious and avoidable national security threat,” said Tipton. “Above all else, our elected representatives have a responsibility to act in the best interest of the safety and security of the American people. In order to do that, at the most basic level, we need to know who is being granted access to our country. The challenge is that there is no database in Syria we can access to check the documentation of refugees against.”
In an October hearing in the House Committee on Homeland Security, FBI Director James Comey testified that there are numerous challenges to verifying the identities of Syrian refugees.
“We can only query against that which we have collected,” Comey said. “And so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them.”
Tipton has co-sponsored H.R. 4025, to prohibit the use of any federal funds to admit refugees from Syria, as well as H.R. 4038, American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015, to strengthen the national-security vetting process to ensure terrorists are not able to enter the United States by exploiting humanitarian programs. The SAFE Act would require that the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence unanimously certify to Congress that the individual does not pose a security threat before they are allowed to enter into the United States. The House is expected to vote on legislation this week related to the Syrian refugee issue.
“Until the government has the capability to sufficiently vet and verify the identities of the refugees, admitting tens of thousands of them without that safeguard would provide ample opportunity for an ISIS terrorist to hide amongst them posing as an asylum seeker,” Tipton said. “I can’t in good conscience sit idly by and allow that to happen. That is why I am working with my colleagues in the House on a number of paths forward to halt President Obama and Governor Hickenlooper’s plan to admit unverified Syrian refugees into the United States, and identify alternative options to provide for the safety of innocent victims of war without jeopardizing the security of the American people.”
Tipton and his House colleagues also sent a letter to the President, today, writing: “We urge your immediate action to suspend these admissions until effective vetting and monitoring processes are established that ensures the safety of the American people.” Pictured: Congressman Scott Tipton.