South Carolina Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan today issued the following statement on President Trump’s Executive Order:
I have seen more distortion, hyperbole and outright lies about President Trump’s national security executive order from Democrats and the media over the past few days than I have seen on about any other issue since I came to Congress.
Yesterday, I posted a full copy of the executive order … to read, and, as promised, I would now like to take a few moments to provide context and help dispel the rumors about these new rules.
Even before the attacks in Nice, Paris and Berlin, I vocally expressed my concern about the threat of radical Islamic terrorism and the need to avoid repeating Europe’s mistakes by carefully reviewing our immigration and refugee resettlement programs. Of the refugee resettlement programs out there, there is one country in particular that has concerned me and that’s Syria. It is impossible to properly vet someone from Syria due to the ongoing civil war. Most people don’t have documentation, and it is difficult to verify people’s identities and backgrounds. It has been well reported that people from other countries are even attempting to pose as Syrian refugees in order to gain access to Europe and the United States.
While many of these people are doing this in hopes of achieving a better life, there are numerous recorded instances of terrorists disguising themselves as refugees in order to enter other countries. In fact, [Rep.] Michael McCaul [R-TX], chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, recently reported that there have been roughly 500 known instances of terrorists and people with terrorist ties attempting to enter United States through the refugee resettlement program, which again is remarkable given how little we know about these people. While President Obama was in office, he ignored calls from many Governors like Nikki Haley [now Ambassador to the United Nations] to not send Syrian refugees to their state because of vetting concerns. And despite the growing threat of ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism, President Obama decided to actually increase the number of refugees he was planning on bringing into the United States to at least 100,000, a policy that was echoed by [then State Department] Secretary [Hillary]Clinton during the campaign.
Now let’s examine the facts of the Executive Order.
1) The EO does not end the global refugee resettlement program. It suspends the program for 120 days in order to review vetting and safety procedures. The order also caps the annual refugee number to around 50,000, which is roughly the average that it was during the Bush Administration. However, the actual number of refugees we will bring into the United States will most likely be significantly higher than that because it does not include people who come here on their own like the unaccompanied children from Central America, and extended family members of people who have already settled in the US. However, the Executive Order does halt the Syrian refugee program due to the concerns I previously outlined.
Some have criticized this move saying we have a moral obligation to help the Syrian people. I agree that we are a compassionate people and we do need to help. However, the best way to help the humanitarian crisis in Syria is to stabilize the country, not bring in refugees that put Americans lives at risk. It’s worth noting that Franklin Graham who runs Samaritan’s Purse, one of the largest Christian aid organizations providing relief to Syrian refugees, also shares this belief.
Back in 2011, I warned the Obama Administration against taking sides in the middle of the civil war. Despite those concerns, the Obama Administration gave weapons to factions of the Syrian rebels, some of which fell into the hands of ISIS. To complicate things even more, the Syrian government is backed by Russia, which only further draws out the conflict. The best way to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria is to broker some sort of agreement with Russia (which is ironic given how much the left has made political hay out of President Trump’s attempt to improve relations with Russia on issues like terrorism), and to establish safe zones for the Syrian people, something that the Syrian rebels had asked President Obama to do for years but he refused. Building safe zones in Syria will help far more people than what even President Obama proposed we do through the refugee resettlement program.
2) Does President Trump’s executive order create a Muslim ban? Absolutely not. President Trump’s order created a 90 day moratorium for visa travelers from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya while we assess the screening and vetting process with these countries. Three of these countries have been classified as terrorist safe havens by the Obama Administration, the other three have known terrorist organizations operating within them. You’ll notice that the largest Muslim majority country in the world, Indonesia, isn’t even on this list. That is because again, this is not a Muslim ban. This part of the Executive Order addresses the real concerns about the situation on the ground in these countries. Iran for example is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, with terrorist assets and agents scattered all across the Western Hemisphere. Because President Obama ignored a bipartisan coalition in Congress by lifting sanctions and giving billions of dollars to Iran, they are now better financed to further fund their terrorist efforts throughout the globe. I believe this warrants taking some precautions to protect the American people.
3) What am I hearing about President Trump wanting to retool refugee program to assist religious and ethnic minorities? The refugee program has long sought to help religious and ethnic minorities because they are at a higher risk of persecution. That’s why it was so alarming that during President Obama’s watch, Christian Syrians were significantly underrepresented in the refugee resettlement program. Christians make up roughly 10 percent of the population in Syria, but only accounted for less than .05 percent of those who were admitted to the United States. Not only does this deserve a full investigation to determine how and why this happened, but it reveals the need to ensure we are helping the most vulnerable first. That does not only include Christians in the Middle East, but also Kurds, Jews, and those of the Bahai faith. President Trump’s order does not say that only religious and ethnic minorities would be helped under the refugee resettlement program, but rather they would be an increased focus.
Final thoughts. The White House announced 325,000 people from foreign countries traveled to the United States this past Saturday, and out of those, only 109 were initially detained and the vast majority of those have been released. The Executive Order allows for individual’s cases to be reviewed for admission into the United States on a case-by-case basis. So, while there will be some adjustments that need to be made, there seems to be a process where these people can make the case for why they should not be subject to these new restrictions. At the end of the day, the media has a responsibility to report on facts. Calling this a Muslim ban is inaccurate. Posting pictures of the Statue of Liberty weeping is insulting. Ignoring the need to keep Americans safe is irresponsible. The news media has been more critical of President Trump before he even took office, than they ever were to President Obama and it is shameful. Let’sstick to the facts, and to me the facts clearly back up the President’s actions.