Colorado's DeGette: Strict Screening Adequate to Allow Syrian Refugees
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette said the vetting process to keep terrorists from infiltrating Syrian refugees coming to the United States is stringent and adequate.
"As it stands today, America has strict screening processes for refugees coming in," the Democrat from Denver said Friday morning near the foot of statue of former Colorado Gov. Ralph Carr, who was the lone politician who opposed Japanese internment during World War II.
Thursday the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly to raise the requirements for refugees from Iraq and Syria in the wake of the Paris terrorist assault on Nov. 13.
DeGette, who opposed the legislation, said those who supported it were caving in to the goals of terrorists and changing policies based of fear.
"Demagoguing the issue of refugees is not an American value," she said. "We need to stand together and open our arms even wider."
U.S Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from Aurora, was not at DeGette's event but was pleased to vote Thursday for the so-called Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which also got support from Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder.
"The first obligation of the federal government is to ensure the safety and protection of the American people," he said. "That is why I voted 'yes' on the SAFE Act.
"While this is a step forward in ensuring a security check for any refugee admission into the U.S., there is still much to be done. Safe zones' are needed to protect innocent Syrian civilians so that they can safely remain in their own country."
DeGette was flanked Friday morning by Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali, leader of the Northeast Denver Islamic Center and a member of the Colorado Imam's Council.
"We deplore the opinions and comments that have been made by some of our governors here in our country, and some of the presidential candidates," he said. "We are 100 percent with the American people in stamping out terrorism and anyone who wants to come against our great country and government."
Gov. John Hickenlooper said Colorado would continue to welcome refugees. A specific number coming to the state is not yet known, but President Obama has said he would allow up to 10,000 into the United States by 2017.
Nathan Woodruff-Stanley, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, applauded Hickenlooper and DeGette for "standing strong against fear-mongering."
"We're hearing too many people who are willing to trade our nation's values for fear and toss aside our civil liberties and our constitution," he said.