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Video: Rep. Gerry Connolly, Erol Kekic of Church World Service Debate House Vote to Restrict Refugees

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by Lowell

I watched this segment on the PBS NewsHour earlier tonight, and was hoping to hear some sort of convincing explanation by Rep. Connolly regarding his vote in favor of the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act. Rep. Connolly kept arguing that the bill actually wasn’t as draconian as critics – like Erol Kekic of Church World Service, who appeared on the show with Rep. Connolly – argued it was.

So…I read the bill, and it certainly DOES appear to be draconian. Among other things, it requires “the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation certifies to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence that each covered alien has received a background investigation that is sufficient to determine whether the covered alien is a threat to the security of the United States,” and also that “[a] covered alien may only be admitted to the United States after the Secretary of Homeland Security, with the unanimous concurrence of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Director of National Intelligence, certifies to the appropriate Congressional Committees that the covered alien is not a threat to the security of the United States.” What are the chances of all that happening? Try ZERO (especially with no additional funding, which I don’t see here…hmmm). In other words, this bill would make it close to impossible for any refugee from Syria or Iraq (the bill singles out those two countries) to be admitted to the United States.

The bottom line is that this bill is unnecessary, draconian, and anti-humanitarian. Nobody, let alone any Democrat, let alone a Democrat from a safe “blue” district, should have voted for it. Really, really disappointing by Rep. Gerry Connolly, who generally has done an excellent job in Congress, but in this case clearly caved to angry voices within his district. In contrast, kudos to Rep. Don Beyer and Rep. Bobby Scott, both of whom voted against this disgraceful bill. As for Virginia Republicans, well, what else would you expect from them but fearmongering, demagoguery and xenophobia?