Rep. Peters Calls for Better Screening against Terrorist Threats
November 19, 2015
U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) released the following statement on the United States’ response to the Paris terrorist attacks and defense against terrorist threats after voting in favor of the American SAFE Act:
“America stands by our oldest ally France, as they have with us throughout history. The attacks in Paris were abhorrent and shocking, and San Diegans and people across the country are shaken by the real threats posed by ISIS and other terrorist groups.
“President Obama has explained how the United States’ process for screening refugees is the most thorough and advanced in the world. Our process incorporates biometric checks, medical screenings, and stringent investigations with international intelligence agencies to ensure that every individual we allow to enter is not a threat to national security. However, the Administration has not made the case to me that today’s bill will shut down or unduly delay our existing process. It is not too burdensome for federal agencies to certify that admitted refugees will not endanger our communities. To the contrary, the Administration should embrace this opportunity to stand behind its process. This bill does not close our borders, halt our acceptance of refugees fleeing violence and oppression, impose a religious test or otherwise undermine the values and freedoms that make our country so great.
“While I supported today’s bill, I believe that Mr. Thompson’s alternative bill provides a more comprehensive and effective approach. Unfortunately, Speaker Ryan would not permit its consideration. Today’s bill was rushed to the floor after two hastily convened hearings but without committee mark-up and amendments. The promise of an open House of Representatives following regular order appears to have been wildly exaggerated, and House leadership seems more interested in Thanksgiving political talking points than deliberative legislation.
“Now, Congress must be one step ahead and develop smarter tactics to keep terrorists from entering the United States by other means. The European Visa Waiver Program allows European citizens to enter the US without screening, regardless of their background. Many of the Paris attackers were disaffected French citizens, and under the current system they could buy a plane ticket and enter the United States tomorrow.”
The American SAFE Act requires the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Director of National Intelligence to certify to Congress that individuals applying for refugee status in the United States do not pose a security threat.
Peters also called for Congress to pass the ‘Treason and Passport Revocation Act,’ which he previously introduced with Rep. Juan Vargas. It would require the Secretary of State to deny or revoke the passports of anyone determined to be a member of, or affiliated with, a foreign terrorist organization, and would amend the U.S. Code to deem this membership or affiliation an act of treason.
“Those who side with terrorist organizations, be it ISIS, Al Qaeda, or others, should not be allowed to freely return to this country.”
Earlier in the week, Congressman Peters met with representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government to receive an update on the fight against ISIS, and to discuss ways that Congress can continue to be supportive. He also participated in a House Armed Services Committee hearing with U.S. military officials on the threat posed by ISIS.