Tester urges strength, vigilance as U.S. seeks to prevent Paris-style attacks

Senator: We cannot afford to sacrifice our values

(U.S. Senate) – Following ISIL’s attacks in Paris and Beirut last week, Senator Jon Tester today pressed senior national security and law enforcement officials about how they intend to keep America safe from terrorist threats.

Tester, who sits on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, asked Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez specific questions to ensure that the vetting process for refugees is stringent and prevents potential threats to Americans.

The Administration is proposing to accept 10,000 refugees in 2016 who are fleeing extreme violence in the Middle East and seeking refuge as a result of ISIL’s horrific violence and Syria’s ongoing civil war.

“The attacks in Paris showed us the very real threat that ISIL poses to Western democracies, including the United States,” Tester said. “We have to take this threat seriously and do everything in our power to ensure the safety of the American people. But in our efforts, we have to be smart. We cannot afford to sacrifice the American values that make our nation great, because that’s exactly what the terrorists want.”

During today’s hearing, Richard and Rodriguez testified that less than two percent of refugees seeking asylum in the United States have been young, military age men without families, and that Syrian refugees are subject to the most rigorous screening process of individuals entering the United States from abroad.

Tester this week asked tough questions about the refugee vetting process in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.