Langevin Statement on American SAFE Act

Nov 19, 2015 Issues: Armed Services, Immigration, Vote

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, released the following statement in response to House passage, by a vote of 289 to 137, of H.R. 4038, the American SAFE Act of 2015:

“The safety and security of my constituents and all Americans is my first priority, and the American people should feel completely confident that we, as a Congress and as a nation, are doing everything in our power to protect our people and our freedom from the threat of terrorism and all those who seek to do us harm. However, I do not believe that protecting our national security precludes us from showing compassion to the refugees fleeing unspeakable violence and oppression in Syria, Iraq and other conflict zones. I know that we can both protect the American people and stay true to the values of the United States, a nation of immigrants that has been a beacon of hope for those who seek freedom, opportunity and tolerance, as well as protection from persecution.

“I voted today in favor of additional safeguards that will ensure the highest level of security screening for those who wish to enter this country and live by the American principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Existing refugee screening standards are already rigorous and include biometric record checks and extensive interviews with specially-trained DHS officers, with preference given to the most vulnerable refugees. The process, which typically takes 18 to 24 months, is designed with a litany of checks and balances by an inter-agency team that includes the State Department, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center. Today’s legislation would additionally require the FBI, Homeland Security Department and Director of National Intelligence to certify to Congress that any refugee from Syria or Iraq does not pose a threat to the United States. I believe these requirements will provide a reasonable new layer of assurance to our protocols, and I will do whatever I can to ensure that the resources are available to carry them out in a way which does not close or delay the resettlement process for those refugees who meet our criteria.

“The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of American independence, reminds us of our roots. ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ We cannot forget those powerful words or what they mean to us, to our forefathers and to the world. We cannot let fear, hate or prejudice destroy our way of life. This great nation, a melting pot from its infancy, will continue to welcome all those who flee persecution and seek freedom. With our friends and allies around the world, we stand united against terrorism.”