When President Trump began his campaign for the White House, he made national security—and in particular, homeland security—a cornerstone of his platform.
His calls to secure the border, keep terrorists off of U.S. soil and protect our communities struck a chord with a large majority of Americans who for years felt that Washington ignored their very real concerns about our porous borders and broken immigration system.
As expected, the president has moved quickly to deliver on his promises to fix this broken system.
The Trump administration recently rolled out a revised version of its Executive Order aimed at restoring confidence in the procedures we use to vet refugees fleeing from nations known to harbor radical and violent extremists.
The revised version appears to have benefitted from the engagement of the president’s cabinet, especially the key input of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. This valuable input underscores how important it is for the president to have his team in place to govern effectively. It is vital that every agency involved in implementing this directive is engaged during its development.
Congress has many problems to tackle, but protecting our nation is at the top of that list. That requires we work together to govern. It also requires that we take a step back from the heated rhetoric and have honest conversations. Taking the fundamental steps to protect our homeland does not diminish the fact that we are a welcoming nation that strives to help the vulnerable.
It is no secret that ISIS and other violent extremists want to exploit our nation’s generosity and welcoming spirit to sneak terrorists onto American soil. We can, and must, take reasonable measures to prevent that. It is reasonable, responsible in fact, to put a pause on accepting refugees from these nations in order to fix the flaws in the process and instill confidence in the system.
There are considerable challenges we face when trying to vet refugees from the countries impacted by this directive. Four of the countries on this list don’t even have a U.S. embassy, so you can understand how difficult it is to get a complete picture of the refugees seeking asylum from those countries when we don’t even have open communications channels with them. If we can affect positive outcomes and overcome these challenges, as was the case with Iraq, then we can confidently remove a country from the list.
Every country will be evaluated within twenty days of this directive. If a country comes up short of where it needs to be, it will have fifty days to fix the failures in communications with us.
Taking these reasonable steps to reduce this threat in no way runs counter to the ideals that our nation is built upon. We can be proud of the resources the U.S. has provided to support those fleeing persecution in war-torn Syria. I have visited the refugee camps we support in Jordan and Turkey. Our commitment to their well-being is strong. The rhetoric just doesn’t match the realities when it comes to this issue.
As Chairman of the Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, I strongly support President Trump’s efforts to get Washington to uphold our most important responsibility—protecting the American people. I stand ready to work with him, Secretary Kelly and my colleagues to accomplish this goal.