Westerman Votes for American SAFE Act

November 19, 2015
Press Release
Bill Would Strengthen Background Checks on Syrian and Iraqi Refugees


WASHINGTON – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) issued the following statement Thursday (Nov. 19) following his vote for the American SAFE Act of 2015, a bill authored by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul in conjunction with six House committees. Congressman Westerman co-sponsored the bill along with 88 other House members:

“The American SAFE Act is a first step in keeping Americans safe, but it’s not the end of our work,” Westerman said. “Immediately following the terror attacks in Paris six days ago, the Members of the House worked over the weekend to expedite legislation already in development to address the refugee issues and designed to step up security in the United States. The SAFE Act will require the administration to verify these refugees are not terrorists. The administration and the FBI have already said they cannot verify refugees from Syria are not radicalized, so this bill would immediately stop the flow of unverifiable and potentially dangerous individuals into the United States. This common sense legislation is supported by the vast majority of America. It has bi-partisan support and it is a bill the president should support to prevent future attacks. My constituents and the American people should know we have other tools, including the upcoming Omnibus bill, we can use to protect the homeland should the president veto this legislation. The risks from radicalized terrorists both homegrown and from abroad will not go away, so the House will not stop working to protect America.”

Statements from the Obama administration and the FBI:

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson: "It is true that we are not going to know a whole lot about the Syrians that come forth in this process. That is definitely a challenge...We know that organizations like ISIL might like to exploit this [Syrian refugee resettlement] program…The bad news is that there is no risk-free process."  (Oct. 21, 2015, Homeland Security Committee hearing)

FBI Director James B. Comey: "There is risk associated with bringing anybody in from the outside, but especially from a conflict zone like [Syria]. My concern there [about bringing Syrian refugees into the United States] is that there are certain gaps I don't want to talk about publicly in the data available to us."  (Oct. 8, 2015, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing)