By Congressman Phil Roe
On Nov. 13, radical Islamic terrorism sadly reared its ugly head in Paris, France, claiming the lives of more than 130 innocent people. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the French people, especially the loved ones of the innocent victims who were wounded or killed. ISIS was quick to take responsibility for this horrific attack, which occurred just after President Obama claimed the terrorist organization was geographically contained in Iraq and Syria. ISIS may not be gaining any new ground in Iraq or Syria, but it’s clear their plan is to spread terror throughout the Western world at any and all cost. I strongly believe it’s time for all civilized nations to join together to eradicate this evil from the Earth. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said it best when he said that it was not enough to contain ISIS; our only option is to defeat them.
French authorities are still investigating the horrible attack, but they believe at least one of the terrorists entered France by posing as a Syrian refugee. I understand the situation in Syria is dire, but our first, most important duty is to keep American citizens safe. I’ve had concerns about the vetting process for Syrian refugees entering the country since the president announced the U.S. would accept 10,000 refugees starting in October, which is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 3314, the Resettlement Accountability National Security Act. The bill prohibits the administration from allowing refugees into the United States until Congress passes a joint resolution allowing the federal government to resume admitting refugees. We cannot be certain each refugee entering the U.S. from Syria has been thoroughly and properly vetted, and we cannot risk opening ourselves up to another attack.
Additionally, I’ve signed a letter led by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) to House leadership encouraging that the House move quickly to take up a solution to this serious issue. I am also pleased the House will vote on a bill to pause the president’s plan to resettle Syrian refugees in the U.S. until we have more certainty about the vetting process. While I have doubts we can achieve the level of vetting necessary, I’m glad we’re taking steps to put the president’s plan on hold.
I was also pleased to see Tennessee leaders express similar concerns. Governor Haslam said Nov. 16 that he was working with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to share relevant information with public safety partners across the state. The governor also requested the federal government to suspend refugee placement in the state of Tennessee. Similarly, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and State House Speaker Beth Harwell also requested a halt to all refugee placements, which is what H.R. 3314 would do.
As I’ve said before, with matters related to war and peace, there are no easy answers. The Western world is at war with ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism, and we must do everything in our power to protect our citizens.