RIVCO: Rep. Ken Calvert calls for end to Obama Administration’s Middle Eastern Refugee Program

A bill cosponsored by an Inland Empire congressman to suspend the Obama administration’s Middle Eastern refugee resettlement program until safeguards can be put into place was approved today by a supermajority in
the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The most important responsibility that my constituents place on my shoulders is keeping them safe,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona. “Americans are sympathetic to innocent civilians who have been forced to flee their war-torn nations, but we must take effective measures to ensure all refugees coming here have been screened.”
Calvert was among the chief backers of Texas Rep. Mike McCaul’s HR 4038, the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015,” which Obama administration officials declared Wednesday would be vetoed if approved by the Senate and sent to the president.
HR 4038 was affirmed by a vote of 289 to 137, a narrow two-thirds majority that would enable lawmakers to overcome a presidential veto. The bill’s fate in the Senate remains uncertain.
Along with Calvert, two other Riverside County congressional representatives voted for HR 4038 — Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Temecula, and Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside, opposed it.
He released a statement yesterday acknowledging that fears throughout the country were elevated following the Paris terror attacks last week that left 129 dead and scores wounded, but urged a resistance to “isolation.”
“This is precisely the moment when America’s leadership and strength is needed most,” he said. “Any pause in our refugee resettlement calls into question our commitment to defending the innocent.”
According to Calvert, there’s “bipartisan concern” that the Obama administration’s current screening process to vet asylum-seekers from the Middle East is riddled with vulnerabilities.
“Halting the Syrian and Iraqi refugee programs is not a matter of compassion; it’s a matter of competency and confidence in our security screening process,” the congressman said.
In its statement against HR 4038, the White House insisted that 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 … and would undermine our partners in the Middle East and Europe in addressing the refugee crisis.”
Under the legislation, the director of the FBI would be required to certify each background investigation conducted on an applicant for asylum — with concurrence from the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the director of the Office of National Intelligence.
Calvert said he and others would be working over the Thanksgiving holiday to refine regulatory components of HR 4038, requiring that, in addition to background interviews, each refugee undergo a polygraph examination, submit fingerprints and DNA samples.
“A polygraph will be essential in determining whether a refugee is truly coming to the United States to escape oppression, or if they are coming here with possibly violent intentions,” Calvert said. “It is also necessary since, for many refugees, we only have their word to rely on as to who they
are, where they are from and why they are coming here.
“There are no corresponding government databases to verify their claims, nor is there the ability to conduct a sufficient background check due to the conflicts in the region and displacement of entire communities.”
The congressman noted testimony by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson last month in which he admitted that “organizations such as ISIL might like to try to exploit this (resettlement) program.”
“It is true that we’re not going to know a whole lot about the Syrians that come forth in this process,” Johnson said.
The Obama administration wants to admit at least 10,000 Middle Eastern natives who have fled to European shores in the last several years, ostensibly to escape fighting connected with ISIS.
Governors in 30 states — three-fifths of the U.S. — have publicly opposed the administration’s resettlement plan based on public safety concerns.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s office released a statement to City News Service earlier this week saying that he intended to “work closely with the president” to facilitate asylum for qualifying applicants, but also to “ensure that anyone seeking refuge in America is fully vetted in a sophisticated and utterly reliable way.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.