WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today voted in favor of H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act. The SAFE Act would have enhanced the procedures for vetting refugees coming to the United States from Syria and Iraq. While this legislation received overwhelming support when it passed the House last November, it failed to receive enough Democrat support to be brought up for debate in the Senate.
“The United States has a long tradition of welcoming refugees into our country,” said Rounds. “However, my top concern remains keeping South Dakotans and all Americans safe here at home. ISIS members have already shown they are willing to infiltrate countries posing as refugees. Additionally, top U.S. intelligence officials have expressed concern that we don’t have all the information needed to properly vet Syrian refugees to make sure they don’t have ties to terrorism. Until officials are able to process the large number of refugees expected with a high degree of confidence, we should not be allowing this group of refugees in to our country.”
The SAFE Act would have suspended the admission of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the United States until the nation’s top security officials can declare each refugee does not pose a threat to the United States. It would have placed a moratorium on the admission of these refugees until the following conditions are met:
- The FBI director certifies the background investigation of each refugee
- The secretary of Homeland Security, along with the FBI director and the director of National Intelligence, certifies to Congress that each refugee is not a security threat to the U.S.
It would also have created an additional layer of protection by requiring the Department of Homeland Security inspector general to independently assess the refugee approvals, making sure that high-risk individuals do not slip through the cracks.
This legislation would have put in place the most robust national-security vetting process in history for any refugee population.