Rep. Rick Larsen issues statement on accepting refugees from Syria

    Congressman Rick Larsen
    Congressman Rick Larsen

    Second District Congressman Rick Larsen issued the following statement Thursday about accepting refugees from Syria who are fleeing violence and persecution. In voting against H.R. 4038, a bill that effectively halts Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., Larsen reiterated that keeping the American people safe is his top priority, and stated that denying refuge to Syrians plays into ISIL’s hands while betraying American values.

    “In the aftermath of the terrible ISIL-driven attacks in Paris, some have called on the United States to shut down any effort to admit Syrian refugees. I understand the fear that people feel, and I share their concern for our national security. We must take smart, decisive action to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil.

    “The U.S. should continue to show its strength by taking the fight to ISIL. Through airstrikes and support for forces in the region, including the Iraqi military and the Kurds, we have shrunk the territory ISIL has held by 20 percent to 25 percent. We have done this through working with an international coalition to conduct airstrikes against ISIL leadership, convoys and logistics operations, as well as through coordinated sharing of intelligence and other information about ISIL’s membership and activities.

    “But military action only goes so far, and we should also be worried about giving ISIL the chance to say ‘I told you so.’ By shutting out Syrian refugees, ISIL can claim that Muslims are not welcome in the United States. Handing ISIL a propaganda victory like this gives them another recruiting tool, creating a serious national security concern. Fear is an understandable response to terror and violence. I hear that concern, and I am addressing it by voting against a bill that plays into ISIL’s hands.

    “The process a refugee must go through to enter our country is the most stringent for any traveler seeking to cross our borders. Refugees must go through rigorous security screenings that involve the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and the Department of Defense. Only after clearing all of these departments will refugees be allowed to come to our country. Because it is so thorough, this process usually takes 18 to 24 months. And in contrast to European nations, our vetting process must be complete before a refugee can travel here.

    “The Statue of Liberty is more than a tourist attraction. The icon is an important symbol of American power, and the words on the statue beckoning the world’s tired, poor, huddled masses convey what is exceptional about our country. We can live up to those words while also addressing legitimate security concerns.

    “Yes, we should be concerned about the jihadist extremism that ISIL promotes, and we should take strong military action to attack it and help our allies with intelligence and other tools. We should take equally strong action to undermine ISIL’s terror by living up to American values and helping those fleeing the violence that ISIL and Syria’s government have created. We have the knowledge and vetting processes in place to welcome people who have lost their homes and are seeking the same things we all want: hope, dignity and opportunity for our families,” Larsen said.

    Since 2011, about 2,070 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the United States. A quarter of these refugees are adults over 60, and half are children.

    Many religious groups have maintained their support for bringing Syrian refugees to the U.S., including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church, Methodist leaders and Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League.


    1. My sincere thanks to Representative Larsen for standing up against the isolationist fears manifested by the U. S. Congress with its vote on Syrian refugees.


    2. The so called “refugees” are overwhelmingly young men who should be staying in their countries and fight for change not flood our countries. Why isn’t Israel or the Middle East opening up their countries to these people? They don’t want them and neither should we. Our security and nation should come above anything else. Enough of the PC nonsense and time to get real. Our leaders can’t even secure our borders, have allowed millions of illegal aliens to enter this country and we are supposed to believe them when they say the “refugees” will be vetted. Don’t believe it. What happened in Paris is only the beginning. It will happen here. Wake up people .


    3. This, from Ronald Reagan’s farewell speech after 8 years as President.

      “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.

      …After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”


    4. The metaphorical shining city Reagan envisioned does still stand strong.

      But the World Trade Center doesn’t. Neither does the Alfred F. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, for that matter.

      Reagan was president prior to the 1994 WTC bombing, before the Murrah Building bombing, before the US Embassies overseas were bombed, before the USS Cole was bombed, and before 9/11. Reagan saw the attack on US marines in Beirut but as president he never saw a massive strike on US soil, against civilians.

      Things have changed since Reagan’s era, with reason. We now have the TSA – an intrusive, restrictive entity created as a direct result of a very real threat. Related or not, we haven’t been hit since. If You See Something, Say Something – catchy, and trademarked by the Department of Homeland Security, which didn’t exist before 9/11.

      With respect to refugees from Syria, it seems there is reason to distrust the sufficiency of our screening methods – we’ve heard as much from the Director of the FBI and from the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

      While the investigations and reassessments are ongoing, it’s really not helpful to suggest accepting Syrian Christians but not Syrian Muslims, or to suggest watchlists or whatever it may have been that a certain politician might or might not have answered in response to a question this past week.

      It also really doesn’t help to quote from speeches given by now-dead politicians who didn’t experience our current day threats, or from passages on a plaque installed at the base of a statue in a harbor, however famous they might be. It’s false equivalence to compare, as our governor has done this week during an interview aired on NPR and in a New York Times op-ed, the situation of Syrian refugees of unknown true identity to that of long-time Japanese-American neighbors of American citizens that were interred away from their homes during WWII.

      It’s not wrong to be concerned about potential threats that may be posed by some Syrian refugees. Our recent past and possibly future leaders got it wrong before with respect to Syria – Assad isn’t a reformer and the road to Damascus isn’t a road to peace.

      Paris probably wasn’t a one-off. It is important to get this one right.




    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here