Ryan Breaks with Party to Support Refugee Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan says legislation to strengthen the screening process for Syrian and Iraqi refugees seeking asylum in the United States will strengthen the existing system.

Authored in the aftermath of last Friday’s coordinated attacks in Paris, the Republican-led House of Representatives voted Thursday on the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015. The bill passed the House 289-137.

Ryan, D-13 Ohio; U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio; and U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-3 Pa., all voted in favor of the legislation, which President Obama has pledged to veto. The legislation “would introduce unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world,” according to a White House statement.

Ryan, in breaking with his party, said in a statement, “Our current process prioritizes women and children, has multiple background checks, an extensive medical exam, and numerous in person interviews with Homeland Security officials in which every detail of the conversation must be corroborated with current databases – if just one thing doesn’t fit or there is any doubt, that individual will not be given asylum.

“That said, I was presented with a bill to make the current system even stronger and I believe it is reasonable to ask for the Secretary of Homeland Security, the FBI Director and the National Intelligence Director to certify refugees seeking a home in the United States,” he continued. “This legislation doesn’t pause the refugee process, but rather enhances it and makes it even stronger.”

Ryan’s vote came just days after he criticized Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, for calling on the president to cease Syrian refugee settlements nationally and in Ohio specifically.  He was “disheartened” by Kasich and other leaders “who lack the courage to stand up to this grave threat and stick to our values we hold dear all because they fear our enemy,” he said in a statement earlier in the week.

“I, for one, will not let ISIS or any other terrorist organization scare me into abandoning our deepest principles as a country by turning our backs on refugees, especially women and children, in their time of tremendous need,” he said.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.