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Congressman Garret Graves

Representing the 6th District of Louisiana

Graves, Boustany and Abraham Tell Senate to Act on Refugee Security

January 11, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressmen Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge), Charles W. Boustany, Jr., MD, (R-Lafayette) and Ralph Abraham, MD, (R-Alto) joined their colleagues in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging him to hold a vote on the House-passed American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act.  

The SAFE Act requires the Director of the FBI to certify thorough background checks have been administered for every refugee entering the United States from high-risk countries like Iraq or Syria, and requires that the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the FBI, and the Attorney General must affirm every refugee being admitted to the United States is not a security threat. The House passed the SAFE Act on November 19, 2015, but the Senate has not acted on the bill.

On Friday, January 8, authorities arrested two refugees – one in Sacremento, CA, and one in Houston – on terrorism-related charges. According to a report by CNN: “Both men were Palestinians born in Iraq and living as refugees in the United States, according to the U.S. Justice Department… Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, 24, of Houston, is charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, of Sacramento is charged with making a false statement involving international terrorism.”

Graves said: “I commend law enforcement for identifying these individuals’ affiliations, apprehending them and preventing their ability to carry out any acts of terror on our soil, but Friday’s events further expose the shortcomings of the current system being used to vet these refugees coming across our borders. We must be proactive with our efforts to know who these people are, which is why we have called on the Senate to take steps to keep Americans safe by certifying that thorough background checks have been conducted for refuges entering America from high-risk terror countries.”

Boustany said: “We must do everything within our power to ensure no one is ever admitted to this country who wishes us harm. The hard truth is, there are bad actors who are willing to do anything – including exploiting America’s generosity through the refugee program – to attack the United States. If the Administration will not pause the admission of refugees from Iraq and Syria, they should at least be willing to conduct thorough background checks to ensure no one with terrorist ties is brought to this country.”

Abraham said: “The recent terrorism arrests show that the President’s process for vetting refugees is not working. Since he refuses to stop admitting these refugees, we must strengthen the process to make sure no terrorists enter our country. I urge the Senate to pass the American SAFE Act so that we can send this bill to the President. I believe in helping people when we can, but the security of our families and our communities is simply too important to risk on these refugees and the current failed vetting process.”

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A signed copy of the letter Boustany, Abraham, Graves, and their colleagues sent to Majority Leader McConnell can be viewed here