Score 1 for Fear: House Votes to Disrupt Syrian/Iraqi Refugee Screenings


November 20, 2015

Some follow-up from yesterday’s post about Tamam (age 5) and the other refugees escaping from Syrian violence: the House of Representatives voted for H.R. 4038, the legislation that would stall and disrupt refugee screening for resettlement in the U.S. The vote was 289-137, with 242 Republicans and 47 Democrats voting in favor, and 2 Republicans and 135 Democrats voting no. (Note the hyperlink – you can see how your representative voted, here.) While some who voted for the legislation said all it would do is to pause the screening process, yesterday’s post pointed out that it would cause the current multi-layered screening to be dismantled and replaced by something extremely cumbersome, and could have the effect of diverting our security resources away from other, more likely sources of threats.
I thought you might like to see something put out by the White House, which has said it would veto H.R. 4038 if it reaches the President’s desk. (CORRECTION: The vote yesterday in the House was not strong enough to override a veto.) We pasted it below. (UNHCR is the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, which refers refugees for the U.S. to consider for resettlement here.)

And we can look forward to many more instances of fear-playing for the grandstands. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) yesterday stymied an appropriations bill covering the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development by trying to insert an amendment to deny public assistance to refugees from any of 34 countries or territories. (It’s viewable here.) The T-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chair, Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking member, Jack Reed (D-RI) both opposed Sen. Paul’s amendment, because it had nothing to do with their spending bill, and because they knew it would force it off the floor. The amendment would not do anything to stop refugees from coming; it would only deny them “welfare” when they arrive. We provide assistance for a limited time to refugees, who in leaving their countries, have lost pretty much everything. It’s kind of like helping families who have lost everything in a fire – we recognize they need a temporary hand. Senator Paul evidently thought the best course was to talk about terrorists and play upon resentment of strangers coming here and getting help.

Here are the White House numbers:

By the Numbers: What You Need to Know about Syrian Refugees in the U.S.

The refugees that have captivated so much attention in the wake of Friday’s attack are fleeing precisely the type of senseless slaughter that happened in Paris. To slam the door in their faces — to decide not to help when we know that we can help — would be a betrayal of our deepest values as Americans.

That’s why we’re going to do the right thing in the right way: protecting the American people even as we provide refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Here’s what you need to know:

Learn more about how America can ensure its own security while protecting refugees.

humanitarian crisis