By Felicia J. Persaud
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Nov. 25, 2015: On Thursday, November 19th, six days after the ISIS terrorist attack on Paris that claimed 129 lives, the U.S. Congress passed H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies SAFE Act. This bill will expand background checks on Iraqi and Syrian refugees hoping to enter the United States.
The vote succeeded 289-137 with almost all Republicans and 47 Democrats, including New York Congressmembers Charles Rangel, Gregory Meeks, Nydia Velasquez, Carolyn Maloney and Grace Meng, voting in favor. For once, this immigration liberal applauded the move and frowned on comments by President Obama that he would veto the bill if it also passes the Senate.
Because like many Americans – albeit an immigrant one – I’m saddened and angry each time I hear of another terror attack around the world. Having lived through 9/11, I’m also petrified it can happen again at any time or that some Jihadi posing as a refugee will infiltrate the US borders and carry out a Paris-type attack in any major US city.
God knows we have such easy access to guns and grenades internally that it’s not impossible!
My concern became more realistic this week after authorities in the Dutch and French Caribbean islands of St. Maarten/St. Martin, arrested three men trying to enter the territory with fake Greek passports. The men, believed to be Syrian nationals, arrived at the Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side of the island about 7:30 a.m. on November 14th, a day after the Paris attack, on an Insel Air Flight out of Haiti.
Three days later, on November 17th, police in Honduras arrested five more Syrians who were travelling on stolen Greek passports and intended to enter the United States by land. The five were detained after arriving on a flight from neighboring El Salvador, police said. According to Honduran police, they were planning to travel to the northern city of San Pedro Sul to cross into Guatemala and then Mexico and on into the US.
The arrest also came on the heels of an April report on inquisitr.com that ISIS is operating in northern Mexico, just minutes from the U.S. border and a few miles from El Paso, Texas. Judicial Watch claims ISIS is working alongside drug cartels and human traffickers to penetrate the U.S. homeland from a dangerous, gang-controlled staging area in Mexico known as Anapra.
So it is clear that the US’ Southern border could be an entry point through which to target Americans. So why should we not support the SAFE Act and expand the screening process for millions of refugees from Syria and Iraq attempting to enter the United States by requiring the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct its own background checks in addition to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS)?
It is true that many innocent men, women and children have been forced out of their homes as a result of the ongoing civil war in Syria and militarization by the Islamic State (ISIS) but why would we simply open our country to potential terror when the facts of Paris are so stark?
Any refugee coming into the US should only be admitted with the unanimous agreement of the FBI, DHS, and Director of National Intelligence indeed. So what if the background check takes a bit longer? There are 11 plus million people still waiting to get on any path to legalization and who have been living here and paying taxes for many years and would be happy to submit to any rigorous background check to get even a work permit and travel documents.
Why should it be any different for refugees from nations whose nationals continue to wreak terror on the world?
The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.