Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama

Rep. Sewell Supports Bill to Strengthen Refugee Screening Process While Still Aiding Humanitarian Crisis

Nov 19, 2015
Press Release

Today, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 4038—American SAFE Act of 2015:

“While I remain committed to the U.S. refugee resettlement program, as a Member of Congress the safety and security of the American people is my first priority. The horrific terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut not only shake our very conscience but should also cause us to evaluate and re-examine our own security measures and protocols. I am convinced that we must be more vigilant in our refugee screening and vetting processes. The bill seeks to strengthen the screening process by prohibiting refugees from Syria and Iraq from being admitted into the United States without a more comprehensive background check and by adding government certification to our already robust security screening protocol.

“To be clear, the recent terrorist attacks should not cause us to live in a state of fear nor abandon our humanitarian values. While our nation's security remains the top priority, the displacement of millions of Iraqis and Syrians ravaged by the cruelties of war is an international crisis that demands we do our part.  As Americans, it is against our shared value of human rights to do nothing for those seeking asylum. My support for this bill in no way diminishes my commitment to those shared values. However, I am convinced that our current refugee vetting process can be more effective. While the United States cannot turn our backs on refugees, we must have a more stringent screening process. 

“My vote today is reflective of the fact that there are no perfect or easy solutions to the challenges we face in fighting terrorism and combating ISIS. Yet it is clear to me, that we must evaluate our national counterterrorism strategy and policies continuously to ensure that we are doing everything within our power to protect the American people and to defeat and destroy ISIS and all terrorists that seek to do us harm.”