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McCollum Statement on HR 4038

November 19, 2015
Press Release

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act. Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-MN) released the following statement regarding the bill:

“In the aftermath of last week’s barbaric ISIL terrorist attack in Paris the Republican leadership of the U.S. House has decided that the best way to protect the security of the American people is to attack Syrian and Iraqi refugees. These are the innocent and vulnerable children, parents, and elders who are seeking protection from murderous armies, terrorist groups, and death squads.

The perpetrators of the Paris attack were ISIL radicals with European citizenship, not refugees. As many as 3,000 European extremists have traveled to Syria to join the ranks of ISIL.  In fact, the ISIL mastermind behind the Paris attack who was killed by French authorities, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was a Belgian citizen, not a refugee from Syria or Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. visa waiver program allows unrestricted access to the U.S. from the European Union which is an open door for European extremists not on a watch list to enter our country.  In my view, this is where the real reform and intelligence sharing must be strengthened.

The American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act (H.R. 4038) is a Republican ploy that is cruel, callous, and a blatant display of xenophobia used to energize a political base that is motivated by a hatred of immigrants.  This legislation is not designed to protect our national security interests, but rather will be used as a political weapon to attack Democrats who still believe our nation should be a safe haven for vulnerable people seeking freedom from persecution and the treat of death.

I support resettling refugees in the U.S. and I have always welcomed them to Minnesota. The most modern identification technology and intelligence background checks need to be utilized in the resettlement security process.  That means this Republican Congress must act responsibly and provide the necessary funding for such a comprehensive screening protocol.  I support appropriating full funding for these strict protocols.

ISIL is a global scourge that must be eradicated.  Keeping America safe and eliminating ISIL will require intelligence, military, and counter-terrorism coordination between the U.S. and all allies. Unfortunately, H.R. 4038 is an transparent effort to scapegoat Syrian and Iraqi refugees who have suffered immeasurably, but clearly not enough for some of my colleagues.  I reject this Republican bill as another example of driving a political agenda based on willful ignorance in the face of a serious terrorist threat.”   


Congresswoman McCollum is the ranking Democratic member on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and the Democratic co-chair of the Native American Caucus.