Congressmen Tim Walz (MN01), Collin Peterson (MN07) and Rick Nolan (MN08) have joined Minnesota's Republican representatives in voting for the American Safe Act of 2015. Fourth District Congresswoman Betty McCollum voted against the bill, while Fifth District Congressman Keith Ellison did not vote.
National Public Radio's Camila Domonoske's reports in House Votes To Increase Security Checks On Refugees From Iraq, Syria:
The House of Representatives has easily passed a GOP-authored bill to restrict the admission of Iraqi and Syrian refugees to America by requiring extra security procedures.
The bill — called the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015, or the American SAFE Act of 2015 — would require the secretary of Homeland Security, the head of the FBI and the director of national intelligence to sign off on every individual refugee from Iraq and Syria, affirming he or she is not a threat.
The FBI director would also need to confirm that a background investigation, separate from the Homeland Security screening, had been conducted on each refugee.Lawmakers say it is the first of many bills aimed at addressing security concerns in the wake of the Paris attacks, reports NPR's Muthoni Muturi.
Supporters of the bill say it would require a "pause" in admitting Syrian and Iraqi refugees, as current applications would be halted while a new vetting process was established. Some conservative critics object that it doesn't ban such refugees outright. . . .
An article published yesterday by Breitbart.com illustrates those objections. Matthew Boyle reports in Paul Ryan, House GOP Leaders Set The Stage For Coming Cave To Obama’s Syrian Refugee Resettlement Program:
But despite McCaul’s and the committee’s tough-sounding rhetoric, the bill—several congressional aides and the actual text of the legislation confirm—simply requires one new step for Syrian and Iraqi refugee admittance and resettlement: That the Director of National Intelligence, the director of the FBI and the Secretary of Homeland Security approve any such refugees beforehand. Each of those people work for President Obama at the pleasure of the president.
“That’s like asking Janet Napolitano to verify the border is secure,” one GOP aide told Breitbart News. “Of course they are going to approve them without hesitation.” . . .
But another congressional GOP aide from an office highly skeptical of the package told Breitbart News if anyone expects three top officials who serve at the pleasure of the president to rebuff Obama’s wishes they’re kidding themselves.
“If you believe that, I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona,” the aide said.
National Public Radio reports that the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate and President Obama has promised a veto should it reach his desk:
It's unclear whether the Senate will take up the legislation, says NPR's Arnie Seipel. If the bill does pass through Congress, President Obama has pledged to veto it. But in the House of Representatives, Republicans would only need one more vote to make the bill veto-proof.
The administration says the bill would introduce "unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world."
It would also undermine allies and partners in the Middle East and Europe, the administration says.
Obama argues that the existing vetting process — which includes fingerprinting, examination of personal history and interviews — is sufficient, and the certification requirement the Republicans are calling for would "provide no meaningful additional security."
The Obama administration has recently begun disclosing details about how Syrian refugees are currently screened. As we reported Tuesday, the process includes multiple agencies and lasts up to two years. . . .
The U.S. has taken in about 2,500 Syrian refugees since 2011, according to the AP, and the Obama administration has announced a plan to accept 10,000 more in the coming year. The White House says half of the refugees admitted to the U.S. are children, and about a quarter are older than 60.
We're disappointed that the three Democrats are playing along with this nonsense. Walz has issued a statement about his vote:
“Throughout my life, both in and out of uniform, my priority has been to ensure the safety and security of the American people. We have to protect our country and live up to our founding ideals. Over the past several days, I have met with experts, studied the issue and solicited the opinions of southern Minnesotans. The message from southern Minnesota has been very clear: our care and compassion for those fleeing terror is absolute, but we have to find a way to ensure that we keep Americans safe from harm. I supported this legislation today because I believe it adds important safeguards to ensure additional security. I believe doing so is critical to the success of any refugee program, and I will continue to fight to ensure we take every possible measure to protect our country.”
Photo: Rather than letting refugees literally drown in the ocean, the Safe Act will figuratively let them drown in red tape.
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