By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, October 6 U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R from Montrose) announced that he was co-sponsoring H.R. 3573, the Refugee Resettlement Oversight and Security Act, that would require Congressional approval before refugees can be brought into the United States.
Rep. Byrne said in a statement, “After listening to the concerns of my constituents and attending a State Department briefing, I strongly believe Congress should have the ability to block any attempt to bring a large number of Syrian refugees into the United States. There is simply no way to know for sure that terrorist groups, like the Islamic State, are not going to infiltrate the refugee process. The Refugee Resettlement Oversight and Security Act will ensure that Congress, and in turn the American people, have the final say when it comes to increasing the number of refugees.”
Congressman Byrne said, “We should never compromise our national security, and I fear that allowing a mass influx of Syrian refugees into the United States would do just that.”
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R from Alabama) shares Rep. Byrne’s concerns. Sen. Sessions said recently, “Recent statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement indicate that 75 percent of refugees receive food stamps and more than half receive free healthcare and cash welfare. For refugees from the Middle East, the numbers are even higher: more than 90% of recent Mideast refugees draw food stamps and about 70% receive free healthcare and cash welfare.”
Sen. Sessions continued, “Refugee resettlement also comes with security risks, as we have witnessed with the surge of ISIS recruitment among Somali-refugee communities in Minnesota. Anyone claiming to have a serious and honest discussion of refugee resettlement must ask the difficult questions about integration, assimilation and community safety. This is certainly true with respect to countries like Syria, where we have little to no information about who these people are, and no ability to determine whether they are radicalized now, or likely to radicalize after their arrival in the U.S.”
Last month, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Obama administration will increase the number of worldwide refugees that are accepted into the United States to 100,000, which is a significant increase over the current cap of 70,000. The United States is planning to take at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the course of the next year.
H.R. 3573 would require approval from both the House and the Senate before refugees are admitted to the United States; give Congress the authority to block any inadequate refugee resettlement plan; and ensure the Department of Homeland Security is working with the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence to screen potential refugees.
Mobile is a designated U.S. State Department refugee resettlement area.
Congressman Byrne recently sent a letter to the Department of State asking for detailed information on the screening process being used for any refugees from Syria. Congressman Byrne has also taken part in a classified briefing where details about the screening process were discussed.