U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Sarasota, is joining the list of conservatives including GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump in calling on the U.S. to block Syrian refugees from seeking asylum on American soil.
He’s asking the Senate to pass the American SAFE (Security Against Foreign Enemies) Act that would bar Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. until there’s a more thorough vetting process in place. The bill has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but is stalled in the Senate.
The legislation would require each Syrian or Iraqi refugee to be signed off by the secretary of Homeland Security, the head of the FBI, and the director of national intelligence affirming they are not a threat.
Buchanan’s call comes just one day after an attack in Istanbul, Turkey killed 10. The alleged suicide bomber was identified by Turkish officials as a Syrian refugee who had been fingerprinted a week earlier to enter the nation as a refugee.
“The attacks in Paris and Istanbul demonstrate how radical Islamic jihadists are using refugee populations as cover to carry out murderous attacks,” Buchanan said. “The safety of Americans comes first. Congress needs to put a bill on the president’s desk to freeze the Syrian refugee resettlement program until we have a better screening process.”
In a news release from his office, Buchanan’s staff cites The Wall Street Journal in identifying the bomber as Syrian-born Nabil Fadil. Subsequent reports found that the man was actually of Saudi decent, but all agree he entered Turkey from Syria.
“We should be using every tool at our disposal to stop terrorists in their tracks,” Buchanan said. “The Senate should pass this bill immediately and require the president to fix the gaping holes in the Administration’s vetting system.”
Critics of SAFE argue it is too meticulous a process and would block refugees from fleeing a humanitarian crisis, something many Democrats say is un-American. Calls to keep Syrians out of the U.S. began after the November terrorist attack in Paris.
Donald Trump later suggested the U.S. keep all Muslims from entering the country.
The SAFT Act passed the House 289-137. Even if it passed in the Senate, President Barack Obama has vowed to veto it. However, if supporters in the House were to gain even one additional vote in favor of the bill it would override the president’s veto.
This isn’t the first time Buchanan has taken a stand against terrorism. In November he introduced the Social Media Screening for Terrorists Act that would direct the secretary of Homeland Security to look into all available public records including sources such as Facebook and Twitter before admitting foreign travelers into the U.S. That legislation would also apply to visa applicants as well.
Arizona Sen. John McCain introduced a similar bill in the Senate.