Senator Dan Coats

Coats Votes to Tighten Screening of Syrian Refugees, Calls for Safe Havens

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today voted for legislation designed to improve America’s national security by tightening up the screening of refugees from Iraq and Syria. The bill would suspend the admission of Iraqi and Syrian refugees into the United States until the nation’s top security officials can certify the integrity of background checks and declare that each refugee does not pose a threat to the United States.  

“While the United States is a welcoming country, our government has an obligation to protect American citizens,” said Coats. “Top U.S. law enforcement officials have testified that there are gaps in our refugee program that terrorists can exploit. We need to ensure our refugee process is not exploited by those who are threats to the United States. I am disappointed that Senate Democrats blocked this common-sense measure to keep Americans safe.” 

The legislation, which previously passed the House of Representatives, failed 55 to 43, with sixty votes necessary for passage.

Coats spoke on the Senate floor this afternoon and said that ultimately the debate about bringing Syrian refugees into the United States – whether it be the current 2,000, the planned 10,000 or potentially even more – fails to address the main issue.  

“Even if the United States were to admit 100,000 refugees, it still would be only a tiny fraction of the people displaced by the crisis in Syria,” said Coats. “The only reasonable solution to dealing with this humanitarian crisis is to create conditions in and near Syria that will permit people to safely remain near their home country. This will require the United States, our allies and other cooperating international powers to create areas in Syria where Syrians can find safety from attack. Safe havens should be set up along the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. This will require both no-fly zones and strategic military activity by the United States and our allied partners. We also need a massive commitment from the world community to set up, fund and manage safe areas with sanitation, health care, food, housing and schools in neighboring countries.”

Click here to watch Coats discuss this issue on the Senate floor.

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