Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

As White House Rushes to Admit 9,000 Syrian Refugees, Buchanan Calls for Passage of His Bill to Screen for Terrorists

Apr 21, 2016
Press Release
“The President’s Syrian Refugee Surge is Rash, Reckless and Wrong”

WASHINGTON – Amid reports that the State Department will begin rushing to admit thousands of Syrian refugees into the United States, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today called on Congress to immediately pass his bill to screen the social media accounts of foreigners seeking to enter the United States.

Buchanan’s Social Media Screening For Terrorists Act (H.R. 4301) requires the Department of Homeland Security to vet all public records, including Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media, before admitting foreign travelers and visa applicants into the country, including those seeking entry through the refugee program.

The Congressman pointed to the fact that senior Obama administration officials – including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson – have testified that ISIS operatives have attempted to infiltrate refugee populations and that the current federal screening process is wholly inadequate.

The State Department is currently performing a so-called “surge operation” in Jordan designed to rush the processing and vetting of these refugees in as little as three months in order to meet President Obama’s stated goal of admitting 10,000 Syrians by this September, according to The Hill.

“The President’s Syrian refugee surge is dangerous, reckless and wrong,” Buchanan said, adding, “the lives of Americans are endangered when we get rash and careless about who we allow to enter the country.”

Buchanan noted White House press secretary Josh Earnest stated just last September that the screening process “typically takes 12 to 18 months. And the reason for that process is that the safety and security of the U.S. homeland comes first.”

“The Obama administration is speeding up the process of accepting Syrian refugees when you can drive a truck through the holes in our current screening process,” Buchanan said. “The last thing we need is to speed up an already imperfect process. We can’t leave any stones unturned as Islamic jihadists continue to spread their twisted ideology around the world through their use of social media. American lives are at risk. Congress must pass this legislation immediately and unleash 21st century resources to penetrate and destroy the online activity of ISIS.”

The Social Media Screening For Terrorists Act has continued to gain momentum in the U.S. House since its introduction in December. The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-TX, recently co-sponsored Buchanan’s legislation, saying the bill “adds an important and necessary layer of screening that will go a long way in properly vetting the online activities of those wishing to enter the United States.”

Last month a top counterterrorism adviser to the Obama administration stated with regard to ISIS that, “They’re on Facebook. They’re on YouTube. There are something like 90,000 Twitter accounts associated with or sympathetic to ISIL, sometimes with 50,000 followers each.”

Buchanan introduced his bill in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, when Americans learned that the federal government does not screen the social media profiles of foreigners seeking to enter our country.