Halting Refugees is the Right Thing to Do

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Recent evidence that refugees are plotting with terrorists have renewed concerns about the Obama administration’s plans to admit tens of thousands of refugees from Syria. We should not be surprised if terrorists succeed in exploiting our refugee system.

ISIS has publicly stated its intentions to infiltrate our refugee system and take advantage of flawed security screening. This is why we must take all possible steps to close the security “gaps” that exist, keep Americans safe, and keep the enemy out.

Long before attacks in Paris and San Bernardino took place and before arrests of terrorist-aiding refugees in Houston and Sacramento made headlines, the Obama administration’s own officials raised concerns about bringing Syrian refugees into the U.S.

In response to my question during a hearing before Congress last October, FBI Director James Comey expressed his “concern” about “certain gaps … in the data available to us.” Nicholas Rasmussen, head of the National Counterterrorism Center, acknowledged: “The intelligence picture we’ve had of this conflict zone isn’t what we’d like it to be … you can only review against what you have.”

The subsequent attacks and arrests have raised even further reservations. The Obama administration’s insistence on moving forward with its plans to bring at least 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. this year and perhaps more next year is irresponsible, ignores the reality of security threats, and is out-of-touch with the American people. Worse still, the president threatened to veto legislation passed by the House that makes a good-faith attempt to start addressing weaknesses in our refugee screening.

It is no wonder that recent polls show national security at the top of the list of Americans’ priorities. Even with new attacks reported throughout the world every few days, the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge the threats we face or take the necessary steps to stop them.

This administration has failed to report on the “gaps” in security screening and actively obstructed congressional oversight. Under current law, The Department of Health and Human Services is required to submit an annual report on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, yet this report is more than a year late. The Obama administration repeatedly refused to respond to congressional inquiries on the immigration status of terrorists charged in plots in the United States, despite reports that at least 14 were admitted to the country as refugees.

And the administration has played fast and loose with our immigration laws and broadly granted asylum and refugee status to thousands who simply showed up at our Southern border. The administration has sought at every turn to tie the hands of governors and have forced resettlement of refugees on states, ignoring the concerns of citizens and their elected officials.

This is why I have joined with fellow Texans Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Ted Poe to introduce legislation giving governors the right to refuse Syrian refugees and protect their constituents. I also have introduced legislation to temporarily halt the admission of all refugees until the Obama administration has provided Congress and the American people with the facts. The American people must continue to demand that President Obama and Senate Democrats get out of the way and get on board with measures to strengthen background checks of refugees.

National security is a top concern for Americans not only because they see the world becoming more dangerous but also because they see their government taking actions that make us less safe. They see an out-of-touch Washington elite more interested in protecting their political agenda than protecting Americans.

My hope is that we can escape the remaining months of the Obama administration without bearing the brunt of these harmful policies. The good news is the American people have the last word. All true reform starts with the voice of the people. I believe they will send another strong message for border security this November.


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