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November 18, 2015

Ranking Members Thompson, Schiff and Lofgren Joint Statement on Syrian Refugee Bill on House Floor Tomorrow

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, released the following statement: 

For many Americans, the horrendous loss of life and scenes of chaos of the Paris terrorist attacks harkened back to our own experience in the wake of September 11th. Our top priority is and will always remain the safety of the American people. And it is in these times that the core values of our nation are tested. Welcoming refugees who are fleeing persecution and war is the humane – and American – thing to do. However, some in Congress intend to use this tragedy to shut down the U.S. refugee program, turning our backs on victims fleeing the horrors of ISIS and the Assad regime. 

We must constantly re-evaluate and refine our refugee screening to find ways to strengthen the existing system and ensure that we are maintaining the most rigorous vetting system in the world. Refugees, and refugees from this region specifically, already undergo a far more rigorous screening process than anyone else seeking admission to this country, including background checks, national security vetting, biometric identifiers, and interviews. The process takes on average between 18 to 24 months, and longer in many cases, before a refugee steps foot on U.S. soil. The House Republican legislation would immediately shut down all refugee resettlement from Syria and Iraq – possibly for many years – and severely handicap future refugee resettlement around the world. 

Our commitment to refugees and the security of the American people are not mutually exclusive. We believe that turning our backs on those escaping persecution, many of them religious minorities and victims of terrorism, runs counter to the proud and generous heritage of the United States – a country of immigrants – that has always helped those in need in the most trying times.

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Media contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978