Refugee Issue Calls for Serious and Deliberate Action

Nov 19, 2015 Issues: Defense and Homeland Security

The terrorist attacks in Paris have shaken France and its allies. We grieve for the lives lost and pray for the recovery and healing of those injured or otherwise impacted. This tragedy is a grave reminder that we cannot waiver in the face of Islamic extremism.

It comes as no surprise that ISIS was behind the coordinated attacks that took the lives of at least 129 individuals and injured more than 350 others. And we cannot blind ourselves to the fact that this is far from an isolated or rare instance. Just the day before, a suicide attack in Beirut took 43 lives and in the previous month a terrorist bombing killed over a hundred people who gathered for a peace rally in Turkey.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s foreign policy strategy leading up to this point has been indecisive and ineffective. Contrary to what the president has told us, ISIS is far from “contained.” What may have started as a regional conflict has begun to spill into the western world.

In Iraq and Syria, ISIS continues to murder thousands of innocent Christians and Muslims alike and with these latest attacks has explicitly set its sights on western democracies. They recently released a video claiming Washington, D.C. as their next target.

We are beginning to witness the consequences of the terrorist organization’s unfettered growth in Syria and Iraq. Their widespread and indiscriminate violence has destabilized vast portions of the Middle East and has triggered a mass exodus of refugees.

While our country has a strong record of providing asylum to those fleeing war and oppression, the recent influx of refugees from Syria presents a unique challenge, as ISIS looks to exploit our compassion to inflict more damage.

The White House has remained tone deaf on this issue. In light of the recent events, President Obama still stands by his call to bring at least 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States over the coming year. Of course, Americans are left wondering why the president has a plan to resettle Syrian refugees but has laid out no vision or strategy to defeat ISIS – the unmistakable source of this crisis.

I believe we should take a step back and get a grip on this issue because we cannot afford to get it wrong. We should halt all incoming Syrian refugees to ensure terrorists are not infiltrating the refugee populations.

The State Department and Department of Homeland Security are tasked with screening thousands of potential refugees. I think it’s appropriate we review this vetting process in order to make sure it is entirely thorough. No one can be allowed to fall through the cracks. Right now, the president cannot honestly make that guarantee.

That’s why I am supporting legislation that will stop the entry of refugees from Syria until Congress can assess these programs.

Anything short of completely dismantling ISIS and its stranglehold on the Middle East will have no lasting impact. Until the president can lay out an acceptable strategy to do this, we must take any and all necessary steps to protect ourselves at home. Our national security is on the line.