Texas lawmakers co-signed a letter to President Obama urging his administration implement stronger national security safeguards and certify to Congress that admitted Syrian and Iraqi refuges pose no threat to citizens.
In the June 22 letter, Congressman Michael McCaul, U.S. House chair of the Homeland Security Committee; Governor Greg Abbott; Lt. Governor Dan Patrick; and the state’s entire Republican Congressional delegation pointedly criticized the administration saying it “manifestly failed to reassure and adequately engage State and local governments on these resettlements” and insisted they “work with the State of Texas to reform your Administration’s refugee resettlement policies and procedures immediately.”
Texas “accepts more refugees than any other state,” the letter states, yet the Obama administration remains “vague and unresponsive to our demands for greater transparency” on refugee resettlement, potentially putting the state’s citizens at risk and hinders protecting those refugees “who may be targeted with violence.”
Lawmakers admonished the administration’s handling of the refugee crisis in light of the Islamic State’s intention to infiltrate the program and exploit it to carry out attacks on the West. The letter cites the Refugee Act of 1980, in which “the federal government is required to ‘consult regularly’ with State and local governments about refugees, including ‘the intended distribution of refugees.'”
The letter implores Obama to enact the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act which requires top law enforcement and intelligence officials to “validate the background-check process for Syrian and Iraqi refugees and to certify to Congress those admitted individuals are not a threat.” McCaul introduced the 2015 SAFE Act. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Obama promised to veto any House bill requiring additional background checks, arguing substantial screening measures exist, Breitbart News reported.
“ISIS has threatened to infiltrate Syrian refugee flows to attack the West—and has already done so. Yet the Obama administration has not taken the threat seriously enough and has failed to take the steps needed to keep terrorists out of America,” McCaul said, adding: “The threat is real.”
Recently, he called the Orlando attack “a sobering reminder that radical Islamists are targeting our country and our way of life.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence informed the House Homeland Security Committee in writing that “individuals with terrorist ties in Syria have already attempted to gain access to the United States through our refugee program,” according to the letter. It recalls in January two Iraqi refugees were arrested in the U.S. on terror-related charges. One had ties to ISIS.
Last October, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick charged the Senate Health and Human Services Committee with studying the impact of the increasing number of refugees relocating to Texas, as well as the state’s ability to mitigate the burden of providing state funded services.
Then, in November, Gov. Abbott announced Texas would no longer participate in Obama’s Syrian refugee relocation program in the wake of the Paris terrorist attack that left 130 dead. At least one of those terrorists was a Syrian refugee who entered Europe, Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price reported.
Abbott stated allowing Syrian refugees into the United States is “playing the same game of risk that Europe played” referring to the “individual who entered Europe and then participated in the terroristic bombing of Paris.” He said he would not “roll the dice” and take that risk on Texans. Abbott emphasized, “The first and foremost responsibility of a government is to keep its people safe.”
Texas sued the federal government and a resettlement organization to block Syrian refugee resettlement in the state, Price also reported. However, in mid-June, federal judge David Godbey dismissed the lawsuit. He stated Texas officials failed to make a “plausible claim” for legal action.
The letter notes:
“It is clear that Islamist terrorists are still targeting our country and our way of life, and the American people expect Washington to respond decisively. Now more than ever we must focus on shutting down all potential terrorist pathways into the United states – regardless of whether extremists try to infiltrate from online or across our borders. This includes preventing our humanitarian programs from being exploited by jihadists, yet we are concerned that the Administration has not taken the grave concerns of state and local governments seriously.”
The letter underscores the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “has threatened to use the global migrant crisis as a Trojan Horse, and they are doing exactly that” by exploiting the refugee process “to infiltrate the West to conduct terror attacks.” It emphasizes that Germany “disrupted another ISIS plot and found at least some of the operatives had arrived under the guise of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war” in June.
“In the wake of the ISIS-inspired attack in Orlando, the deadliest on American soil since 9/11, we must be vigilant about shutting down all pathways terrorists could use to get into our country or radicalize our people. That is why communities must be more involved in making sure the refugee program is secure, and the State of Texas must have a say in keeping potentially dangerous individuals from infiltrating it. We are a compassionate nation, but we cannot allow our enemies to take advantage of our humanitarian efforts to do our own people harm.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.