U.S. Representative

Dennis A. Ross

Proudly Serving Florida's 15th Congressional District

Ross Opinion Pieces


A Reasonable Approach to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

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Washington, December 1, 2015 | Joni Shockey (202-503-8755) | comments

Published in Sunshine State News, the Tampa TribuneThe Hill and the Washington Examiner.

Referring to ISIS, President Obama made the following claims mere hours before the horrific terrorist attacks took place in Paris, France: "I don't think they're gaining strength. What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq, and in Syria they'll come in, they'll leave, but you don't see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain."  Flippantly, the President also referred to ISIS as a “JV team,” quipping that if ISIS were to “put on Lakers uniform, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

Contrary to President Obama’s blatantly false claims, ISIS is not contained and they are the greatest threat to our country. The terrorist attacks in Paris provide a warning of what could happen in America if we do not take appropriate and immediate action.

In the past month, an ISIS affiliate has claimed responsibility for destroying a Russian passenger jet in Egypt, killing more than 200 innocent civilians. ISIS also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Lebanon that took the lives of more than 40 civilians. Most recently, ISIS took the lives of more than 120 civilians in Paris, including an American. During this most recent chilling attack, reports have indicated at least one of the terrorists who committed these atrocities entered Europe by exploiting the current refugee process and posing as a refugee fleeing Syria.

It is remarkable to note that while speaking to his countrymen and women after the horrific attacks, French President Francois Hollande vowed to “crush ISIS,” noting the goal should not be containment. This is a stark contrast to the stated goal of President Obama.

Sadly, we are an easy target. Our borders are not secure and our resources are limited. The United States is already dealing with a migrant crisis along our southern border.  We should not further risk our nation’s security by taking additional Syrian refugees.

The Federal Government has no greater responsibility than keeping Americans safe.  Unfortunately, there is no reliable intelligence available about refugees from countries like Syria attempting to enter the United States. The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey recently told a House Committee that there is no practical way to screen and vet the Syrian refugees attempting to enter our country, emphasizing that “all the data sets police would normally go to for information don’t exist.”

Regrettably, President Obama repeatedly chooses to ignore these very real threats. At a time when the American people are calling on the President to reconsider his ill-advised decision to expand our Syrian refugee program, and when our own intelligence community has expressed concerns about our capabilities to identify threats, the President has, instead, inexcusably doubled down on his intentions to admit even more un-vetted refugees.

France has now joined Hungary, Romania, Denmark, and the Czech Republic by enforcing their national boundaries necessary to protect their citizens from the threat of violent Islamic extremists.   

Through conversations with representatives from Hungary, I was made aware of intelligence they have gathered indicating elaborate human trafficking networks in their country. Additionally, they have raised concerns about young men being financed to enter Hungary as refugees, who travel across the country with the intent to enter the European Union.  

The United States should not admit any refugees if we cannot guarantee the safety of our homeland and our citizens. I recently introduced legislation that would prohibit the obligation of Federal funds for admission of refugees from Syria in order to help protect our country against potential terrorism.

A more reasoned approach would be for the United States to aid in the expansion of additional safe zones for refugees inside Syria and in nearby countries. Our nation has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees into our country, and we lead the world in humanitarian assistance. We must continue to help those in safe zones overseas while we put proper measures in place to ensure our nation’s safety. Until that has taken place, we must put the safety of our people first.





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