Home / Pressroom / Press Releases

Press Releases

House passes bill to halt refugee program and strengthen screening measures

Washington, November 19, 2015 | Nicole Bender (202-225-3706)
 U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) voted today in support of a bill that would put a hold on Iraq and Syrian refugees entering the U.S. until multiple intelligence agencies verify that the individual is not a threat to American security. The “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act,” H.R. 4038, passed the House by a vote of 289-137, which would override the President’s veto if replicated.

The bill would add additional layers of security screening to require all three of the top national security chiefs – the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and National Intelligence (DNI) and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – certify to Congress that each refugee is not a security threat to the U.S. This is not currently done.

“We must be able to fully verify that these refugees pose no threat to our security. If that determination is not made then they shouldn’t enter the U.S.,” said Thornberry. “This bill would effectively halt the resettlement of refugees from Syria and Iraq by inserting additional security protocols to our current process.”

Specifically, the bill would require:

  • The FBI Director to certify the background investigation of each refugee;
  • The FBI, DNI, and DHS verify that each refugee is not a security threat to the U.S.;
  • The DHS Inspector General to independently assess the refugee approvals, ensuring that high-risk individuals do not slip through the cracks and provide an annual report to Congress detailing its findings; and
  • The DHS Secretary to provide Congress with monthly reports of the number of applicants who were and weren’t certified.

“It is also important to remember that even if we stopped the refugee program altogether, our safety from terrorist attacks would not be guaranteed,” Thornberry continued. “We must remain vigilant, and the best way to do that is with good intelligence. Unfortunately, over the past seven years, we have continually tied our own hands when it comes to gathering intelligence to identify and counter national security threats.”