Washington, DC - U.S. Sentor Bob Casey (D-PA) relased the following statement on refugee screenings:
“Our first priority must be to keep America safe, which means destroying terrorist networks wherever they are and ensuring that those offered refugee status go through the most rigorous possible screening. Refugee applicants are subject to the highest level of security checks for any category of traveler to the U.S. The process, which involves 18-24 months of review, includes screening by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center and the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense and State. This robust process includes biographic and biometric analysis. Finally, potential refugees from Syria must go through an additional level of scrutiny- the Syria Enhanced Review process. Thus far, the majority of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States are women, children, and the elderly. However robust a screening process the Administration has in place, we should continually look for ways to strengthen the security screening process for refugees and those coming into the U.S. through other programs. Our nation must have security screening for anyone entering the country so that they don’t aid and abet terrorists. If our intelligence and homeland security professionals determine there are additional steps we can take to enhance the existing process, then those steps should be taken immediately. Many experts and security professionals oppose the so-called, American SAFE Act, because instead of strengthening our existing refugee screening process, it would institute a blanket ban on all refugees from Iraq and Syria. Former Director of the CIA General David Patreaus, former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary (under President George W. Bush), Michael Chertoff oppose this bill.
"Members of Congress should work together with our nation’s homeland security and law enforcement professionals to take steps that we know will measurably increase security for the American people. Congress enacted legislation to reform and strengthen the Visa Waiver Program, and we should look for ways to continue to improve the different programs through which foreign nationals can enter the United States. We should also take up and pass legislation that would ban those on the terrorist watch-list from purchasing firearms that could be used in an attack. Further, we need to increase federal support to local and state law enforcement entities that are on the front lines of our homeland security to ensure they have the resources, training, and support needed to confront the threat of violent extremism. We should pass a bill I have cosponsored, the Community Partnerships Act of 2015, which would increase DHS support to local and state authorities to counter violent extremism. As part of this debate the Senate should have also voted on amendments that further strengthen our nation's security. For example, amendments were proposed to dramatically increase funding for local police anti-terror efforts and airport security, close the terror guns loophole to prevent those on the no-fly list from being able to buy firearms, explosives, or radiological material, make clear that the U.S. does not impose a religious test on refugees and enact a comprehensive anti-ISIS bill that Senate Democrats have put forward in 2015.
"There are commonsense steps we can take to increase security and protect Americans from terrorist threats. The legislation pushed by the Republicans in the House and Senate will not make us safer. When deciding what steps to take Congress should be guided by the steps our security professionals, not politicians, tell us will increase safety.”