Lofgren statement on Republican Refugee Bill

November 19, 2015
Press Release
U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren issued the following statement on the House floor today in opposition to the Republican legislation to halt the U.S. Refugee program:

"Thank you Mr. Speaker –

"All of us watched with horror the events in Paris. November 13th was France's September 11th, and all of us have paused to consider what further should be done to make sure America is safe, because our first obligation as Members of Congress is to make sure America is safe.

"And so as we watch the refugees from the Middle East pouring into Europe, concern has been expressed - and I think correctly - who are these people? And hidden among the many helpless victims, are there some that would pose a threat?

"It's worth noting that our process for refugees is completely different. No one gets into the United States unless they have been completely vetted. This process starts with the UN referring only those people who are vulnerable – who have been tortured, who have been victimized, and who are helpless women and children – for screening by us. We have a process that includes soliciting information from the DEA, from the intelligence agencies, from the FBI and the like, and all of those agencies have a veto – if there's a problem they veto the admission.

"The process takes two years or more and a very small number of people actually are admitted. Of the two thousand or so Syrian refugees who've been admitted to the United States, the overwhelming majority are children or widows who have been victims of torture, who have seen their husbands beheaded.

"The bill before us, as has been described by the speaker and the author would stop the refugee program – they call it a pause – they would stop it because it completely restructures this very elaborate system we have by putting the FBI as the lead agency; they'd have to hire agents and send them over. They describe it as a pause – we think it'd take several years to set it up.

"Why is that a bad idea? ISIS is our enemy and we need to fight them and we need to defeat them. But we're fighting on two levels, one – military, but it's also a fight of values. America stands for freedom; we are the beacon of light, of democracy, of freedom in the world. Part of that value in America is allowing people who are escaping monsters like ISIS to be able to become Americans like us. We need to screen and make sure we are completely safe, but if we stop that program, we give ISIS a win.

"Please defeat this bill."