Goodlatte Switches on Refugees, Backs Leadership’s Token Reform Bill

Syrians in Texas
AP/Darko Vojinovic

Judiciary chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte switched sides Nov. 18 in the dispute over Syrian refugees, and aligned himself with a bill that sets token curbs against additional migration, instead of a moratorium favored by a lopsided American majority.

The Virginia congressman initially called for a moratorium on additional Syrian migration. “I think there should be a one-year moratorium on Syrian refugees coming into the United States until we have a system that we know is foolproof and know can work,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said, according to a Nov. 18 report by, a Richmond, Va., ABC station.

Later the same day, however, he testified at a meeting of the rules committee in support of the leadership’s refugee bill, which merely imposes new paperwork requirements on three of President Barack Obama’s senior appointees.

The leadership’s bill, titled H.R. 4038, “puts the Administration on notice that their lax attitude toward this issue will no longer be tolerated,” Goodlatte said in his statement. ”It puts the Administration on notice that Congress is not yet finished reforming refugee policy… [it] is not meant to be the sole solution to the security problems we face in vetting Syrian and other refugees. But it is an important first step,” he testified.

The rules committee decides which bills and amendments are debated on the House floor. It is closely controlled by the leadership, led by Ryan, which has made clear that it wants to pass the leadership legislation — without any possible debates on amendments — through the House on Thursday.

The leaders’ bill would require three senior administration officials to personally approve each new migrant.

However, the leadership legislation will likely die, because White House officials said it will be vetoed by President Barack Obama.

So far, no GOP House leader has championed the alternative budget strategy. This strategy would amend the pending 2016 appropriations must-pass bill to include language barring Obama from spending any money to import Syrians. GOP leaders are avoiding this budget strategy, in part, because they expect Obama to oppose the language and to threaten a government shutdown until it is removed.

Goodlatte endorsed the leaders’ token bill after describing the threat of a jihad attack. “There is a very real possibility that a terrorist, particularly one from, or claiming to be from, Syria or Iraq, will attempt to gain access to the U.S. as a refugee,” he said.

“In fact, ISIS is making no secret of their plans to have their members infiltrate groups of Syrian refugees.  We should take ISIS at its word.

Of course, our hope is that such an individual would be screened out through the refugee vetting process.  Unfortunately we have heard time and time again from top counterterrorism and intelligence officials that the current vetting process cannot prevent such an individual from receiving refugee status.“

After endorsing the leadership bill, Goodlatte also said his Judiciary Committee is developing more ambitious reform of the refugee program. “In fact our Committee has been hard at work long before the Paris attacks working on legislation to make necessary security-related and other changes to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program… we look forward to moving that legislation through the House,” he said.

Goodlatte’s committee has been working on immigration legislation for several years. So far, a rewrite of immigration law has been blocked because the public overwhelmingly opposes the high-immigration, low-wage migration policies sought by Democrats and business-aligned Republicans.

Recent polls, for example, show that Americans oppose the transfer of difficult-to-integratelow-skill, welfare-using and hugely-expensive Muslim settlers into the United States by a lopsided two-to-one majority. Obama, however, insists the migrants be brought to the United States. Since 2009, he’s added 1.5 million Muslims to the U.S. population.

In 2013, progressives and business groups, including immigration lawyers, tried to shove through a so-called “comprehensive” immigration bill that provided an amnesty to illegals, tripled legal immigration to roughly 3 million per year, and allowed companies — including many in Goodlatte’s own district — to import more short-term foreign workers for blue-collar and white-collar jobs in the United States.

That 2013 bill would also have allowed the president to designate large groups of foreigners — for example, Burmese Muslims, Syrian Muslims and Yemeni Muslims — as approved migrants, and then move them into the United States without further approval from the Congress or voters. The well-funded effort died when the GOP primary voters defenestrated the GOP’s Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor, in a June 2014 primary.

Current legal immigration is already very high. In 2013, for example, Obama and the autopilot 1965 immigration bill combined to bring in roughly 2.1 million foreign workers to compete for jobs against the 4.4 million Americans who turned 18 that year. Wages stalled, profits jumped and the Wall Street spiked by roughly $5 trillion. Much of the current immigration is intended to reduce the salaries paid to American white-collar professionals.