Ken Calvert

Press Releases

Rep. Calvert's Statement on President Trump’s Executive Actions on National Security

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Washington, D.C., January 30, 2017 | comments

First and foremost, this is not a Muslim ban.  There is no prohibition on the immigration of individuals based on religion. There is no prohibition of individuals who are Muslim from immigrating to the United States.  Individuals from Muslim prominent countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, etc are not subject to this Executive Order (EO).


The Executive Order places a temporary 90 day halt to the admission of immigrant and non-immigrant visas for nationals from seven countries that are terrorist conflict areas: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.  The list of seven countries was established between Congress and the Obama Administration through the Visa Waiver Improvement Act.  Within the EO there is a provision that puts a halt on all refugees for 120 days and an indefinite halt on Syrian refugees until the process for vetting refugees is improved. The order is similar to President Obama’s halt to Syrian refugees from 2011 to 2014. 


In these countries it is very difficult to ascertain the identity and background of an individual, either because their home government is not cooperative (Iran, Syria) and/or because the country lacks the technical capability to verify identification (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen).  The halt is similar to the Obama Administration’s stoppage of processing for Iraqi nationals after a terrorist plot by two Iraqi citizens was uncovered in Kentucky. 


Every country in the world has a right to control their borders.  For too long, the United States has allowed immigration into the U.S. without proper vetting procedures in place.  As we saw with the attacks in San Bernardino, one of the attackers obtained a U.S. visa despite online posts that indicated she was a threat.  This is just one example of many that highlight the need for a better vetting process. 


It is important to note that the Secretary of Homeland Security has the authority to admit individuals on a case-by-case basis. 


As a Member of Congress, I have been proactively working on a way to improve the vetting process for Iraqi and Syrian refugees.  However, the process could be implemented for any country identified as a possible national security threat.  My bill, the SAFER Act (H.R. 441) would require:

  • All Syrian and Iraqi refugees regardless of background or religious affiliation must pass a certified polygraph examination.  A polygraph will be essential in determining whether a refugee is truly coming to the United States to escape oppression or if they are coming here with possibly violent intentions. It is also necessary since for many refugees we only have their word to rely on as to who they are, where they are from and why they are coming here.  There are no corresponding government databases to verify their claims nor is there the ability to conduct a sufficient background check due to the conflicts in the region and displacement of entire communities.
  •  All Syrian and Iraqi refugees regardless of background or religious affiliation must agree to provide biometric data and have that data compared to known databases in order to validate they have no known history of terrorist activities.

  •  All Syrian and Iraqi refugees regardless of background or religious affiliation must agree to provide DNA samples and have those samples compared to known databases in order to validate they have no known history of terrorist activities.
  •  All Syrian and Iraqi refugees will be subject to a background check that includes an investigation of all online activity, including posts to social media. 
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