These California Democrats voted for the Republican Syrian Refugee Bill

At sunset, a group of mostly Syrian refugees arrive on Greek island of Lesvos after crossing from Turkey. Image from UNHCR.

The House passed the so-called “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act”, which doesn’t actually protect Americans. Rather, it just makes the process of resettling refugees even more cumbersome than the already lengthy process. Some would say that we [should have learned our lesson 60 years ago http://boingboing.net/2015/11/19/how-to-cook-a-marijuana-marina.html], but apparently we have not.

However, just to add insult to injury, these Democrats joined a total of 47 Democrats and their Republican colleagues to create the possibility of a veto override. (H/t to this dKos diary)

Pete Aguilar (CA-31)
Ami Bera (CA-07)
Julia Brownley (CA-26)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
John Garamendi (CA-03)
Janice Hahn (CA-44)
Scott Peters (CA-52)
Raul Ruiz (CA-36)

By way of explanation, Rep. Garamendi released this statement:

“This bill strengthens the already stringent requirements for international refugees entering America,” said Congressman Garamendi. “But strengthening the refugee program is a minor part of the reassessment we must make in the wake of the Paris attacks. For those wishing to come to America to do harm, the refugee program is the least likely way to get in and the most likely way to get caught. Of the millions of displaced Syrians, only around 2,200 have been admitted to the United States as refugees, and for a good reason: applicants are vetted through biometric and biographic checks for at least 18 months by every major American national security and law enforcement agency before they even set foot on American soil. Anyone whose identity and story cannot be precisely confirmed is not admitted to our country. Once they gain admission to the United States, their status is periodically reviewed by state and federal law enforcement.

So, this doesn’t actually help keep us safe, but we should do it anyway in a time of great humanitarian need. The United States, given the destabilizing effect our involvement in Iraq has been to the entire Middle East, has a special humanitarian obligation. And now we are doing our best to walk away from our obligations.

UPDATE: Rep. Garamendi has since posted this statement. Here’s an excerpt, but you should read it in full:

The bill I voted for, H.R. 4038, by my reading (and I encourage everyone reading this to read the bill too), does the following:

  1. It requires the heads of the agencies responsible for vetting refugees – the Homeland Security Secretary, the FBI Director, and the Director of National Intelligence specifically – after the existing thorough (and unchanged) background checks are conducted, to certify that refugee applicants don’t pose a threat to the United States before being granted refugee status.
  2. It requires a review and periodic reports on our refugee program to the appropriate Congressional committees.

That’s literally the entire bill. There’s no talk of pausing or rejecting refugees, no matter how many headlines say otherwise.

 

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