Republican senators questioned the strength of the refugee vetting process — as well as the wisdom of allowing 110,000 Muslim migrants from Syria into the country — during a hearing convened by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and The National Interest, Wednesday.
“The tragic reality is that we have millions of displaced persons in the world today,” said Sessions. “No one disputes that most are victims, this is a humanitarian disaster.” However, he added, “I think it’s important for government leaders to consult something more than their feelings as we deal with nations in unstable parts of the world. Good intentions are not enough.”
“Our immigration laws are not a suicide pact.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), himself the son of an immigrant, was more blunt. “Our immigration laws are not a suicide pact,” Cruz said. “Our refugee program should not become a vehicle for terrorists to come [into the country] and murder innocent Americans.”
Sessions noted there are over 10,000 open terror investigations underway the U.S. currently, and that it takes 30 agents a week for the FBI to monitor one individual suspected of terrorism. He also highlighted the “580 individuals from the Middle East convicted of terrorism since 9/11.” The U.S. simply does not have the necessary manpower to monitor potential hundreds or thousands of Islamic militants who could enter disguised as refugees.
León Rodríguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Simon Henshaw, deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau Of Population, Refugees, and Migration, were adamant that refugees allowed entry pose no threat to Americans.
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“We are committed to deterring and detecting fraud to maintain the integrity of the refugee resettlement program, and we continue to employ the highest security measures to protect against risks to our national security,” Rodriguez said.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), however, brought up the fact that 18 percent of ISIS prosecutions in the U.S. have been of refugees or asylum seekers, and Rodriguez readily admitted that refugees have been caught committing terrorism offenses.
Not only did he contradict his earlier statement that “only those who do not pose a risk to national security” are allowed into the country via the program, but also confirmed that the vetting process relies on U.S. intelligence only and that potential terrorists won’t be flagged “if they have not appeared in our intelligence databases.”
Rodriguez qualified his admission by raising the point that there’s no possible way to identify every terrorist from any country, Middle Eastern or otherwise. “We never had terrorist attacks from people who came from Cuba, or the Philippines, or Mexico, or South Africa or Ethiopia,” Sessions replied.
None of this was of any concern at all to the Democrats on the committee, who seemed hell-bent on ignoring the very real questions raised about national security and turning the hearing into a excoriation of supposed Republican “fear and hate.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) gave an impassioned — though senseless — statement which could be reduced entirely to the theme of “think of the children.” Durbin produced two giant copies of now-famous photos of refugee children: Alan Kurdi, who drowned crossing the Mediterranean, and Omran Daqneesh. Of course, Kurdi drowned because of the actions of his father — a people-smuggler — and some have cast doubt on the authenticity of the famous photograph of Daqneesh perched in an ambulance.
Durbin was also sure to throw in a few Holocaust references to really drive home his point, and compared concerns over mass Muslim migration to concerns over ending national origin immigration quotas in the 1960s. “We were not dissuaded by this fear and hate,” he said.
Durbin even took time to single out Donald Trump and his “deplorable” supporters. “Notwithstanding his own immigrant mother, two immigrant wives, and the hard work of immigrants who contribute to his company and his wealth, Donald Trump and his loyalists have made demonizing immigrants and refugees a key plank of their party platform,” Durbin said.
This is the crux of the matter. Democrats are either unwilling or unable to distinguish between Mexicans and Muslims and would rather treat “immigrants” as a monolith of good-natured individuals who are ready and willing to be good Americans no matter where they originate.
“In all our refugee programs, we have a right and a duty to favor the admission of immigrants who support and celebrate our pluralist Western values,” said Sessions. “This is not just a security test — it is a national interest test.”
Sessions said we must ensure those coming in have the “ability to assimilate.” We must vet their “views towards the treatment of women and homosexuals, their views on honor killings” and “their views on the Constitution,” Sessions said.