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ITHACA, NY – Congressman Tom Reed announced Thursday that he is co-sponsoring a bill that aims to ensure that Syrians and Iraqis seeking refugee status undergo a vigorous screening process.

“I care about keeping American’s safe by keeping ISIS out,” says Reed. “Without being able to verify who these Syrian refugees are or who they have associated with, we have no way of really determining who among them may or may not be part of ISIS.  It’s only right that prioritizes Americans’ safety first.”

The bill would add several onerous steps to the already difficult process of immigrating as a refugee. Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, speaking about the refugee crisis earlier this week, noted that refugees already vetted by the Department of Defense, the State Department and the FBI, among other agencies.

“Entering the country as a refugee is the single hardest way to do it,” Myrick said.

Related: Mayor Myrick responds to criticisms about his welcoming of Syrian refugees

Left: Rep. Tom Reed, left. Right: Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick.

What is the SAFE Act?

According to the text of the the SAFE Act, if it passes, it would require the Director of the FBI, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to personally sign off on each refugee application, certifying that the applicant was not a security threat.

The White House has already threatened to veto the bill. In a statement from the White House, the administration defends the strength of its current security protocols and suggests the SAFE Act would only waste resources.

“The certification requirement at the core of [the SAFE Act] is untenable and would provide no meaningful additional security for the American people, instead serving only to create significant delays and obstacles in the fulfillment of a vital program that satisfies both humanitarian and national security objectives.”

The bill passed in the House with a 289-137 majority. If the Senate passes the bill with a similar majority, the bill be immune to the president’s veto power.

The full content of Congressman’s Reed’s statement is reproduced below:

Tom Reed joined a growing bipartisan coalition concerned about Syrian refugees relocating to the United States by cosponsoring legislation, The American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015, which will ensure proper and vigorous screening of those seeking refugee status. “I care about keeping American’s safe by keeping ISIS out.  Without being able to verify who these Syrian refugees are or who they have associated with, we have no way of really determining who among them may or may not be part of ISIS.  It’s only right that prioritizes Americans’ safety first.”

The bill prevents refugees from Syria and Iraq from seeking refugee status in the United States until the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Director of National Intelligence independently certify that there is no security threat from that individual. No Syrian or Iraqi refugee is able to enter the country without these clearances.

“America has already spent nearly 5 billion dollars in aid for the people of Syria and to address the refugee crisis. We have no doubt, that we are a generous, compassionate nation, but blindly allowing anyone to enter our country with a committed, lethal adversary like ISIS wreaking havoc on cities like Paris, is just absurd.”

Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate are rallying support for the proposal in spite of the Obama Administration’s veto threat.  The House is expected to vote on the legislation on Thursday.”

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.