AMERICAN SECURITY AGAINST FOREIGN ENEMIES ACT OF 2015; Congressional Record Vol. 161, No. 172
(Extensions of Remarks - November 30, 2015)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1672]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                               speech of

                     HON. C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER

                              of maryland

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, November 19, 2015

  Mr. RUPPERSBERGER. Mr. Speaker, as a lawmaker who has dedicated the 
last 12 years to working on issues of national security, I have spent 
thousands of hours in classified briefings on threats both domestic and 
abroad. I have traveled to dozens of terrorism hotspots around the 
globe, meeting with foreign dignitaries and our intelligence workers on 
the front lines. No one more strongly believes that our first and most 
important responsibility is the protection of all Americans. We must 
always scrutinize any foreigner who wants to enter our country for any 
  Today, the highest level of security screening of any category 
traveler or immigrant belongs to refugees. Those screenings involve 
health checks, biometric tests to confirm identity and multiple layers 
of background checks along with in-person interviews by specially 
trained Department of Homeland Security officers. The process involves 
not only DHS but the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI's 
Terrorist Screening Center, the State Department and the Department of 
Defense, each of which must certify the refugee's status at every 
stage. If a refugee's background or identity cannot be confirmed at any 
point, their application ends.
  Syrian refugees receive an additional layer of screening, culminating 
in a process that usually takes 18 to 24 months before they set foot on 
U.S. soil, if they are even approved.
  As a security expert, I know that most terrorists already live in the 
U.S. or they come via illegal means. But it would be far easier for 
terrorists to enter the country legally on a tourist visa or through 
the visa waiver program if they are citizens of eligible nations, 
including France and Belgium, which is where the Paris attackers were 
  It is important to note that the legislation under consideration in 
the U.S. House of Representatives applies only to Syrian and Iraqi 
refugees--but not refugees from other countries with known terror 
networks including Yemen, Nigeria and Afghanistan.
  I am not convinced this bill would protect our country from foreign 
enemies any more than existing processes and procedures. Since 2001, 
only about 2,200 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the United 
States. Half are children and another quarter is over the age of 60. 
These refugees are victims of the same terrorists we are trying to 
defeat. Banning them would not only do nothing to strengthen our 
national security, it would fuel the anti-American sentiment that 
strengthens ISIS. The best way to address the refugee crisis is by 
removing the threat.
  For these reasons, I oppose the American SAFE Act of 2015 and support 
the Secure Refugee Process Act of 2015.