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Congressman Marsha Blackburn Votes to Strengthen National Security

 

7th District of Tennessee

U.S. CongressWashington, D.C. – Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today released the following statement after House passage of H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act.

This legislation would require the FBI, Homeland Security Department and director of national intelligence to certify to Congress that any refugee seeking entry to the United States from Syria or Iraq is not a threat to the security of the United States.

U.S. Congressman Marsha Blackburn

U.S. Congressman Marsha Blackburn

“This is a solid first step in strengthening our national security and protecting Americans from terrorists that pose as refugees. When we return after Thanksgiving, we will begin work on another package of legislation because more work must be done to ensure the safety of our country.

“We know that Islamic State terrorists can just as easily pose as illegal aliens crossing our southern border as they can refugees fleeing a war torn country overseas. Congressional action to protect American citizens from Islamic State terrorists must acknowledge vulnerabilities in our overseas vetting process as well as our domestic security vulnerabilities. That’s why I’m working with my colleagues to temporarily suspend Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) resettlement funding for all refugees, as well as individuals not in a legitimate lawful status. If Congress funds ORR without such restrictions, Congress will be providing the President the funds to carry out his refugee resettlement efforts in full – both from countries overseas as well as through the resettlement of illegal aliens at the Southern border,” Blackburn said.

Lawmakers Call for Temporary Suspension of All Resettlement Services

Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Brian Babin (R-TX), Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) are calling for a temporary suspension of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) resettlement funding for all refugees, as well as individuals not in a legitimate lawful status. The lawmakers’ approach includes but also extends beyond refugee services for Syrian, Iraqi and other refugees and reflects the need to examine the resettlement of potential “special interest aliens” who are crossing our Southern border. The lawmakers are currently crafting language to address the issue for inclusion in an omnibus spending bill.

The Members argue that congressional action to protect American citizens from Islamic State terrorists must acknowledge vulnerabilities in our overseas vetting process as well as our domestic security vulnerabilities. Islamic State terrorists can just as easily pose as illegal aliens crossing our southern border as they can refugees fleeing a war torn country overseas.

The Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety was recently asked whether Islamic State terrorists had infiltrated the Southern border. He responded, “Individuals that come across the Texas/Mexican border from countries with a known terrorism presence and the answer to that is yes.”1 In April, a Judicial Watch report cited a Mexican Army officer and police inspector who asserted that ISIS was operating training bases in close proximity of the U.S. Southern border.2 Another report from August 2014 advised that social media traffic indicated ISIS was planning to “infiltrate” the Southern border in order to carry out a terrorist attack.3

ORR has failed to submit annual reports in a timely manner as required by section 413(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, despite being directly involved in the resettlement of thousands of illegal aliens who have crossed our Southern border over the past few years. Further, ORR’s budget has grown exponentially from approximately $750 million in FY2012 funding to over $1.5 billion currently. Repeated attempts by Members of Congress to conduct legitimate oversight of this entity have been met by delays, obstruction and a failure to produce information.

The vetting and resettlement processes associated with services for refugees and aliens not in a legitimate lawful status must be re-examined in order to address threats from all potential access points. Accordingly, all resettlement services should be temporarily suspended. If Congress funds ORR without such restrictions, Congress will be providing the President the funds to carry out his refugee resettlement efforts in full – both from countries overseas as well as through the resettlement of illegal aliens at the Southern border.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) was established by the Refugee Act of 1980. It operates within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to ORR’s FY2013 Annual Report, its “mission is to link these newly-arrived populations to key resources to maximize their potential in the U.S., and to become integrated and successful members of American society.” ORR has settled more than three million refugees from seventy different countries since it was established.

 


1. Kellan Howell, Texas top cop: Islamic State terrorist might cross southern border. Washington Times, October 6th, 2015. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/6/steven-mccraw-texas-top-cop-islamic-state-terroris/

2. Edmund DeMarche, ISIS operating base few miles from Texas border, group warns. Fox News, April 16th, 2015. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/04/16/isis-reportedly-operating-base-few-miles-from-texas-border/

3. Jana Winter, Online Posts Show ISIS Eyeing Mexican Border, says law enforcement bulletin. FoxNews, August 29th, 2014. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/29/online-posts-show-isis-eyeing-mexican-border-says-law-enforcment-bulletin/


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