Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Congressman John Garamendi’s Statement on Syrian Refugee Bill

November 19, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, Davis, Yuba City), a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted for HR4038, a bill to enhance the screening of refugees from the Middle East and improve American security.

 “This bill strengthens the already stringent requirements for international refugees entering America,” said Congressman Garamendi. “But strengthening the refugee program is just a part of the reassessment we must make in the wake of the Paris attacks. For those wishing to come to America to do harm, the refugee program is the least likely way to get in and the most likely way to get caught. Of the millions of displaced Syrians, only around 2,200 have been admitted to the United States as refugees, and for a good reason: applicants are vetted through biometric and biographic checks for at least 18 months by every major American national security and law enforcement agency before they even set foot on American soil. Anyone whose identity and story cannot be precisely confirmed is not admitted to our country. Once they gain admission to the United States, their status is periodically reviewed by state and federal law enforcement.

“America must remain the refuge of people who flee from terror, war, hunger and persecution. We should welcome those refugees from Syria and Iraq who seek safety and meet our security requirements. While I strongly support tighter screening requirements for refugee applicants, Congress should focus on much more likely ways for attackers to gain entry to our country. Every single attacker in Paris with a confirmed identity was a citizen of either France or Belgium—countries whose citizens don’t even require a Visa to enter the United States because of our Visa waiver agreement with the European Union.

“We must be vigilant in every respect—refugees, students, and visitors, as well as homegrown terrorists. Remember that each of us has an important role to play. If we see something, we must say something to authorities.”

Of the roughly 2,200 refugees from Syria who have been admitted to the United States over the past 3 years, half of those are children, while a quarter are above the age of 60.