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Walker Votes to Protect Our National Security

November 19, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Mark Walker (NC-06) voted today on the passage of American SAFE Act (H.R. 4038), a bill that prevents the admission of Syrian or Iraqi refugees without prior unanimous security clearance from top U.S. security officials.

“The terrorist attacks in Paris demonstrate that the safety of America is at-risk unless we take action,” Walker said. “As someone who has worked in Belgian refugee camps, I understand the need to be compassionate towards individuals seeking asylum, but we simply cannot do so by placing our own national security on the backburner and without clearing these individuals first. I implore President Obama to take off the blindfold and earplugs, sign this bill and protect American citizens,” Walker added.

Under current law, the President has the authority to set the ceiling for the number of refugees that can be admitted to the United States during a fiscal year. For Fiscal Year 2016, President Obama has set the overall refugee ceiling at 85,000 and announced that of that, 10,000 would be Syrians. Any refugee being admitted to the United States must go through a background check, including biographic name checks and fingerprint checks. The information is vetted against a broad array of law enforcement and community databases.

However, despite the background check, top national security officials have testified before Congress that the government does not have the resources to fully vet refugees, especially in countries where we lack a law enforcement presence and the country’s government is in shambles. Government agencies have admitted an inability to even screen for passed criminal activity among refugees from Syria and Iraq.

The American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015 prevents admission to the United States any Syrian and Iraqi refugee until top security officials – the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the FBI, and the Director of National Intelligence – unanimously certify that the individual does not represent a security threat.

Under this legislation, the FBI has a direct role in validating the background checks are thorough enough to keep dangerous individuals out of the country. Further, it requires Members of Congress to receive notifications of admission and requires the Homeland Security Inspector General to independently assess the refugee approvals.

Rep. Walker is a cosponsor of this legislation.

The bill passed today with a veto-proof majority – 289-137 – with 47 Democrats joining 242 Republicans in support.