Ranking Member Conyers Floor Statement in Opposition to H.R. 4038, the "American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act Of 2015"
“Mr. Speaker, H.R. 4038, the so-called ‘American SAFE Act,’ purports to make us safer.
“But, as the Administration correctly observes, this measure ‘would provide no meaningful additional security for the American people.’
“Worse yet, it would effectively deny refugee status for Syrians and Iraqis who are themselves victims of terrorism in their homelands.
“H.R. 4038 is a terribly flawed and inhumane bill for many reasons.
“To begin with, while ensuring the safety of all Americans should be our top priority, H.R. 4038 does nothing to achieve this goal.
“This measure sets unreasonable clearance standards that the Department of Homeland Security simply cannot meet.
“Refugees seeking to come to our shores are already subject to the highest level of vetting – more than any other traveler or immigrant to the United States.
“This extensive screening process is performed by the Departments of Homeland Security and State, in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
“The process utilizes methodical and exhaustive background checks that often take between 18 to 24 months on average to complete and even longer in many cases.
“Second, we must keep in mind that our Nation was founded by immigrants and has historically welcomed refugees when there is suffering around the globe.
“Whether it is an earthquake in Haiti, a tsunami in Asia, or 4 years of Civil War in Syria with no end in sight – the world looks to the United States. We provide protections for refugees and asylum seekers, especially women and children.
“Nevertheless, in the wake of the September 11 attacks on our shores and the tragic November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, we must be vigilant particularly in the midst of a global refugee crisis.
“H.R. 4038, however, is an extreme over-reaction to these latest security concerns.
“Rather than shutting our doors to these desperate men, women, and children who are risking their lives to escape death and torture in their homelands, we should work to utilize our immense resources and good intentions of our citizens to welcome them.
“And, finally, Congress needs to do its part by properly funding refugee resettlement as well as funding our federal agencies so they have the necessary personnel and programs to complete security checks that we already have in place.
“Instead of slamming our doors to the world’s most vulnerable, we should be considering legislation to strengthen and expand refugee programs.
“Unfortunately, the bill before us today is not a serious effort to legislate and it will not make us safer. It is a knee-jerk reaction as evidenced by the fact that this measure, introduced just two days ago, has not been the subject of a single hearing or any meaningful review by our Committee.
“Rather than betraying our values, we must continue to focus on the most effective tools to keep us safe while also providing refuge for the world's most vulnerable.
“Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to oppose H.R. 4038. Thank you. I yield back the balance of my time.”