CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE STATEMENT REGARDING PRESIDENT’S EXECUTIVE ORDER REGARDING ADMISSION OF REFUGEES AND HIS RECKLESS HOMELAND SECURITY POLICIES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Glenn Rushing
January 25, 2017 202-225-3816
CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE STATEMENT REGARDING PRESIDENT’S EXECUTIVE ORDER REGARDING ADMISSION OF REFUGEES AND HIS
RECKLESS HOMELAND SECURITY POLICIES
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Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees today released the following statement in response to the executive order issued today by the President regarding admission of refugees to the United States:
“I call upon the President to heed the counsel of Texas Impact, urging him to reaffirm our nation’s commitment to welcome those displaced by oppression and injustice. The President should set an example for states to follow by refraining from statements and actions designed to frighten and divide our people. Texas became the second most populous state, and Houston the nation’s fourth largest and most diverse city, by welcoming persons of all backgrounds and cultures, races and creeds, religions and ethnicities, particularly those fleeing religious persecution and political oppression.
“As a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee and the Ranking Member on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and
Homeland Security, my priorities have focused on protecting our homeland and national security in a manner that keeps our nation safe but affirms our national values and principles.
“The shameful rhetoric and conduct of certain Texas public officials undermines America's moral leadership in the world, embarrasses our state, and does nothing to make our country safer. The United States already has in place the world's most rigorous screening process for refugees seeking asylum. The critical features of this 21-step process require that every applicant for asylum must:
1. register with, and be pre-screened by, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees;
2. provide background information, including what caused him or her to flee their home country (a ready means of comparing information provided by more than one million refugees to further verify the validity of the information provided);
3. meet one of five legal qualifications: threat of violence based on race, religion or faith or national origin; political beliefs; or membership in a targeted social group;
4. undergo a rigorous background check during which investigators fact-check the refugee's biography to ensure consistency with published or documented reports of events such as bombings or other violence;
5. be subjected to biometric tests conducted by the Defense Department, in conjunction with other federal agencies (the U.S. military has an extensive biometric data base on Iraqis from its time in Iraq); and
6. Sit for intensive in-person interviews, which may takes a minimum of 18-24 to conduct and complete.
“In addition, intelligence and law enforcement agencies have over the past several years established and perfected an intensive form of screening for Syrians called the "Syrian Enhanced Review," which involves a vetting even more intensive and intrusive that applied for other asylum seekers.
“Before coming to Congress, I served on the Board of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, which provides refugee services and, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, Episcopal Migration Ministries and Church World Service, resettles legal refugees fleeing their homeland in fear of political, social or religious persecution. Interfaith Ministries for Greater - 3 -
Houston helps refugees from around the world make new lives in Texas and enhances America’s reputation as a haven for the oppressed.
I applaud the work of organizations like Interfaith Ministries and Texas Impact and call upon my fellow Texans to join me in renouncing all attempts to demonize refugees who may happen to be Muslim. The world's mightiest nation must not be afraid to show compassion and provide sanctuary to some of the world's most vulnerable persons, including Syrian mothers, children, and seniors.”
Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations