To watch Rep. Babin's House floor speech, please click here.
"Mr. Speaker, I feel compelled to speak tonight on an issue that impacts the safety and security of this country. There is a grave threat to our national security that no one seems to want to talk about or address. We talk around it, allude to it, look the other way, or vainly hope that it will just go away. But sticking our heads in the sand will not make it go away. Instead the threat is growing and a lack of knowledge, foresight and action on our part could jeopardize the future of our children and our grandchildren.
"The threat that I am referring to is the Refugee Resettlement Act. Today, I want to share with my colleagues and the nation some very important aspects of the Refugee Resettlement program which I hope will result in serious debate and effective reevaluation of our current refugee resettlement policies.
"After events like 9/11 and the Boston Marathon Bombing, you would think America would have implemented a more rigorous screening process for allowing entry into the United States. On the contrary, and as the world becomes increasingly more dangerous, significant security gaps remain. President Obama has recently announced his plans to increase from 70,000 to 85,000 the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. in 2016. And, for 2017 he plans to bring in 100,000. Most of the increase is from Syria and western Iraq, a direct result of the conflict of ISIS and Obama’s own weak, disjointed foreign policy.
"In addition to the alarming national security concerns the resettlement program poses, there are significant costs that will be placed on the U.S. taxpayer and state and local governments. The numbers we have seen suggest a large economic burden on Americans, and we do not even know the full extent of all the costs.
"This is why I have introduced H.R. 3314 the Resettlement Accountability National Security Act of 2015. My bill places an immediate moratorium on the U.S. refugee resettlement program until the Government Accountability Office conducts a study to determine the economic cost to the American taxpayer and Congress analyzes the risks to our national security.
"According to the U.S. refugee admissions database, nearly 500,000 new refugees have come into the U.S. under the refugee resettlement program since President Obama first took office. As a 1st term representative from TX, I immediately began to investigate this issue because the state of Texas and its taxpayers have been asked to take in more refugees than any other state.
"And I found out that no one was asking, much less answering the questions of: who, how, when, where and how much regarding these refugees. I also found out that aspects of this program are very hard to determine, even by government agencies supposedly overseeing it:
"1. Because these agencies contract and provide funding to non-governmental organizations to administer the program, and
"2. Because the United Nations gets to choose the majority of the refugees that enter the U. S.
"Since the Resettlement Act was signed into law by then President Jimmy Carter in 1980, more than 3 million refugees from Third World countries have been permanently resettled in the United States. And as I said earlier, nearly 500,000 refuges in the last 6 ½ years of the Obama Administration have been resettled by private federal contractors across this country in over 190 towns and communities whose local citizens have little or no say in the matter.
"The private government-contracted organizations that administer the Refugee Resettlement program and choose the locations of resettlement within the U.S. are non-profit groups. However these non-profits are paid literally millions of federal dollars. I am troubled by the Refugee Resettlement Act’s COST to America.
"The stark financial problems of our 19 trillion $ debt argue against asking the American taxpayer to take on the further financial burden of tens of billions of dollars for refugee resettlement. More than 90% of recent refugees from the Middle East are on welfare, according to official statistics published by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
"This is alarming from a budgetary standpoint alone. The Congressional Research Services memo issued to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Office of Refugee Resettlement Admissions from the Department of Health and Human Services revealed 74.2% of all refugees up until 2013 received food stamps, while 56% received some sort of medical assistance. The very next year in 2014 the ORR reported that 92% of Middle Eastern refugees were on food stamps and over 68% received direct cash assistance.
"According to the ORR’s annual report to Congress for fiscal year 2013, the majority of the refugees who enter the U.S. are without any income or assets to support themselves, and are given benefits paid for by state administered programs. Families who have children under the age of 18 are eligible for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Refugees who are older, blind, or disabled are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) whose trust fund is nearing insolvency right now and Medicaid benefits. The federal government does not reimburse States for the costs or Medicaid programs, placing a huge economic drain on the state governments. As a former mayor and local school board member, I know of the strain this places on local municipalities and school systems as well.
"Refugees who do not meet the specifications listed above, such as single adults, childless couples, and two parent families in certain states are still eligible to receive benefits under the Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) and Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) programs for up to the first 8 months as a refugee in the U.S. While the states are reimbursed for these programs, they cost U.S. taxpayers about $302.4 million a year.
"For 2013, The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) allocated $400 million for transitional and medical services, $150 million for social services, and nearly $50 million in targeted assistance. Along with several other allotments, the total refugee appropriation was over $620 million.
"What many Americans do not realize is that refugees are eligible for lawful permanent residence (LPR) status and all federal benefits after one year of being in the US. In addition, if they have children born here in the U.S. they are eligible for benefits as well. Robert Rector of the respected Heritage Foundation puts the cost of accepting just 10,000 Syrian refugees at more than $6.5 billion for a lifetime of costs.
"Again I ask is this wise for a country already in debt $19 trillion?
"It sounds noble for the Obama Administration to propose bringing in more refugees next year, yet there is no full accounting or transparency over what this will cost the taxpayers at the federal, state or local level. In a critical time where we must be economically responsible and prioritize our finite budget accordingly, allocating over half a billion dollars for a program with unknown consequences is not the best use of government resources.
"The question at the end of the day is, can we really afford NOT to take a further look at the resettlement program?
"Let’s also take a few minutes to examine the NATIONAL SECURITY threat.
"Perhaps even more disconcerting than the enormous costs, are the numerous security risks posed by accepting refugees without proper screening. As entire regions of the Middle East dissolve into chaos, the ability to conduct proper vetting of refugees by verifying places of origin, political orientation criminal records or sometimes even basic identity is all too often non-existent.
"Already Director of National Intelligence chief James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, have testified under oath that they cannot properly screen the refugees streaming out of these war torn areas of the Middle East.
"FBI Director James Comey said he had serious concerns about bringing refugees from conflict zones. We cannot just call up the Damascus or Libyan Police Department and run background checks on these refugees from conflict zones. There is already a good chance that of the 70,000 refugees per year coming into the U.S. terrorists and ISIS followers posing as refugees may have slipped through the gaps.
"ISIS has promised that they will exploit this refugee crisis and has already been caught attempting to do so. According to a senior Lebanese official, at least 20,000 jihadists have already infiltrated the Syrian refugee camps and are plotting to enter Europe.
"According to the Council on Foreign Relations, jihadist groups typically target European countries with generous and liberal immigration policies that are allies of the U.S. In line with this, the Hurriyet Daily News in Turkey stated this past February that the Turkish intelligence service warned police that 3,000 trained jihadists were attempting to cross into Turkey from Syria and Iraq, and then make their way into Western Europe to target countries involved in the U.S. led anti-Islamic State coalition. What is even more alarming is that the news publication reports that some of members of the group, including their leaders, have already entered Turkey and have already established cells of terrorist operation.
"Palestinians and citizens from Syria between the ages of 17-25 have entered Turkey as refugees and planned to travel to Europe through Bulgaria in order to attack anti ISIS coalition member countries.
"In fact one ISIS operative has claimed more than 4,000 covert ISIS gunmen have been smuggled into western nations and are currently hiding amongst innocent refugees. He then warned, “just wait” - according to the International Business Times.
"In May, International Business Times also cited Libyan government advisor Abdul Basit Haroun, who warned that ISIS operatives were being smuggled into Europe by boat. Haroun said that ISIS militants are taking advantage of the crisis by using boats for their own operatives who they want to send to Europe, and the European authorities can’t differentiate between those from ISIS and actual refugees. If this is not disturbing, then I do not know what is.
"There are also thousands of former refugees who have settled in Europe over the past several decades now going to join ISIS in the Middle East. According to Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s counterterrorism chief, nearly 4,000 Europeans are estimated to have joined ISIS.
"We’ve even seen this in U.S. refugee resettlement communities. In Minneapolis, Minnesota there have been 22 young Somali men that we know of since 2007 that left their new refugee home in the United States, to join the terrorist organization al-Shabab. In Somalia they are fighting against US allies and US trained troops. There are 27,000 Somali refugees in the Minneapolis area and President Obama’s plans call for thousands more.
"In Texas 37 year old Bilal Abood, is an Iraqi-American who is suspected to have come to the United States as a refugee or asylum seeker in 2009. When the FBI went to his home, they found evidence of ties with ISIS including pledging an oath to its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
"A former cab driver in Virginia, Liban Haji Mohamed, who came to the U.S. as a Somali refugee is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list for providing material support to al-Qaeda and al-Shabab. He is considered particularly dangerous because he worked to recruit other U.S. terrorists for these terrorist organizations. He lived in Alexandria, Virginia, just a few miles across the river from where I am standing right now.
"According to Mike Mauro, a professor of homeland security and national security analyst at the Clarion Project, a poll was conducted in November 2014 of 900 Syrian refugees. In this poll of recent refugees, 13% or roughly one-of-seven claimed to have sympathies towards ISIS. Alarmingly that amounts to a potential 130 ISIS sympathizers.
"The Immigration and Nationality Act, known as the INA, specifies that applicants for the resettlement program be subject to various grounds of inadmissibility, including criminal, security, and public health grounds. The grounds of inadmissibility applying to refugee applicants include the broad terrorism related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG) in section 212 of the INA.
"Very disturbing is the fact that beginning in 2005 the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the Department of Justice began exercising their discretionary authority to waive these categories of inadmissibility for refugee applicants. Then in 2015, the Department of Homeland Security began implementing NEW additional exemptions for individuals if they only provided 'insignificant or certain limited material support' to terrorists. This includes routine commercial and social transactions, or provided humanitarian assistance to undesignated terrorist organizations. As of this past June, the U.S. government has granted more than 15,560 TRIG exemptions to refugee applicants. That’s right, more than 15,000 times, the U.S. government has waived past participation with terrorist organizations so that refugees could come to the U.S. 12 This must stop.
"The warning signs are everywhere of the potential of terrorist suspects posing as refugees, while President Obama redoubles his efforts to bring these people into the U.S. and put at risk the lives and safety of the American people.
"We have recently had two terrorist gunmen in Garland, TX who linked themselves to ISIS, the shooter in Chattanooga, TN who killed five U.S. Service Members, and the Tsarnaev brothers in the Boston Marathon bombing who killed 3 spectators and injured an estimated 260 others. What we need to ask ourselves, is how did the federal government fail the American people with respect to vetting these refugees?
"Of course, not all of refugees are Islamic jihadis, indeed the most are not, but the few that are pose a real threat to the safety and security of the American people. The 9/11 terrorist attackers numbered 19. The Boston terrorists only two.
"As elected Representatives, our RESPONSIBILITY TO AMERICAN CITIZENS AND COMMUNITIES should be our 1st priority.
"The refugee resettlement program has long operated under the radar of most Americans. The average American has no idea that this resettlement program is a U.N. plan that chooses which refugees come to the US and that the US taxpayer foots the bill. But as it has grown over the last few years and its implementation has become a threat to small communities saddling them with the problems refugee resettlement brings without their say-so and often without even their knowledge, residents in several states, including Texas, are starting to ask the hard questions. No longer satisfied with past answers, they are showing up at town hall meetings, starting blogs and email lists, digging up information and informing their friends and neighbors of what’s really going on with refugee resettlement in such diverse American communities as Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Lewiston, ME, Amarillo, TX and Idaho to mention just a few.
"To really see what America’s future will be we have to look no further than Western Europe which has taken in over half a million refugees just this year not to mention the millions over the past decades.
"A very popular destination for refugees coming to Europe is Sweden. The country is currently facing a large-scale refugee crisis and the government does not know where these refugees will live, how they will work, and who will foot the bill.
"According to Boverket, the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, Sweden needs to build half a million homes by 2020. This costly housing initiative will cost about $387 million a year, and will only fund half of this by 2020.33 Sweden is also known for its horrific rape numbers. Recent refugees and now their Swedish born children are responsible for more than half of those convicted for rape, murder, or robbery.
"Clearly, the existing approach to addressing the plight of refugees is not working. Are these really the sort of problems we want here at home in the United States? Again, I am not saying that brutal rapes, gang violence, and domestic terror are the norms, but rather they are the RISKS that have been seen in Europe that come along with accepting large numbers of refugees.
"While refugee crises are tragic, crimes committed by transplanted peoples against unsuspecting, unprotected victims in our own country are even more tragic. The five wealthiest countries on the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, have not taken in Syrian refugees. Instead, they have argued that accepting large numbers of Syrians is a threat to their safety, as terrorists could be hiding within an influx of people. The only help so far from Saudi Arabia is an offer to build 200 mosques in Germany. It’s quite apparent that this fear of importing terrorists is real for American communities if Syria’s own neighbors will not admit these refugees.
"My investigation of the Refugee Resettlement policies has also led to a concern for the most persecuted religious minority in the entire Middle East region, CHRISTIANS.
"Of the nine non-governmental organizations which receive federal grants and contracts to resettle refugees, six are designated religious charities. However, I could find no mission statements from any of them about saving Christians.
"The U.N. connection could explain why so many non-Christian refugees are chosen to be brought into the U.S. while persecuted Christians in Syria, Iraq and Egypt have a hard time getting within sight of the Statue of Liberty. In fact, the glaring shortcoming of the UN refugee program is that it falls short of helping one of the most persecuted groups around the world - Christians. According to reporting by Nina Shea and Elliot Abrams, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees refuses to classify Christians as a persecuted group eligible for resettlement on this basis.
"Why? Because our Department of State chooses to adhere to a definition of refugees as people persecuted by their own government. The murders of Christian men, the rapes of Christian women and the butchery of Christian children apparently do not count. These people are routinely beheaded, crucified, burned at the stake, sold into slavery or have their property confiscated.
"In Iraq, ISIS has blown up dozens of churches, kidnapped Christians and held them for ransom, even after they have already murdered them. Last summer, they started marking Christian homes with a red letter “N” for Nazarene, before they took the homes and exiled the owners.
"Unfortunately for many Christians, exile is a better option than the inhumane atrocities that many in the region are currently facing. Many are sexually enslaved by ISIS, like Kayla Mueller.
"Kayla Mueller was a Christian American human rights activist from Prescott, Arizona. She was taken captive in August 2013 by ISIS in Syria while leaving a Doctors without Borders hospital. After she was taken by the terrorist group, she was repeatedly raped by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.28
"There are still many other Christian ISIS prisoners, including 460 taken from Syria, and many more who have already been killed. Pope Francis has gotten involved and is calling this targeting of Christians “a form of genocide”.
"Many Christians who want to flee persecution face the difficult decision of where to turn and will they be safe? A decision of how to flee and what mode of transportation to take can be critical to Christian families. It was reported that this past April, that 12 Christian migrants trying to get to Europe by boat were thrown overboard by fellow Muslim migrants and drowned. Most are afraid to go to the U.N. refugee camps, and fear the actions taken by some of their more radicalized Muslims within the camps. There are very few Christians in these camps or other non-Muslims because they fear their own personal safety.
"Unfortunately, for these persecuted religious minorities the only persons able to qualify easily for UN refugee resettlement are those people who are in these UN refugee camps. There in the camp they can be designated as Priority 1 eligible by the UNHCR and qualify for resettlement. This is critical to know because the UN refugee camps are the only source from which the U.S. will accept UN refugees under the Resettlement Act. Since very few Christians feel safe in these camps it is apparent that this is the reason less than 4% of the UN resettled refugees are Christian.
"Former Archbishop George Carey of Canterbury said it best when he stated that this inadvertently discriminates against the very Christian communities most victimized by the inhuman butchers of the so called Islamic State. It is a sad reality for Christians in this part of the world right now. They are so desperate to leave they have said they will go almost anywhere except the U. N. camps to try to rebuild their lives.
"There is another method however other than the Resettlement Act by which it is possible to admit Christians and other groups into the U.S. as refugees. The U.S. State Department has the authority to designate certain groups like Christians as Priority 2 refugees which would enable them to enter the United States without having to be from a UN refugee camp. The US State Department needs to act on this immediately.
"It defies LOGIC that we would want to potentially import the problems of the Middle East into the heart of America.
"The recent terrorist attacks in Garland TX, Chattanooga TN, Oklahoma City and the Boston Marathon - should serve as a dire warning. A report submitted by the Obama administration for proposed refugee admissions says that in fiscal year 2014, the median age of refugees from Iraq and Syria was 28 and 23 respectively, and over half of these refugees were of the working age between 16-64. In fact according to UN statistics 65% of the Syrian refugees are military age males who should be defending their own country and pose a risk of having ISIS infiltrators among them.
"Again we don’t need to look any further than Europe for all the evidence we need to see the dire consequences for this program to American safety and security.
"According to the Gatestone Institute, half a million known migrants and refugees came to the European Union in the first 8 months of 2015. This number will most likely reach 1 million by the end of the year. This doesn’t include the number of individuals who slipped in undetected. Of the maritime arrivals to Europe, the top countries of origin are Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Albania, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Iraq. For the refugees who arrived by land, the top three countries of origin are Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
"There has been much criminal activity including multiple cases of rape among the refugee camps. On August 6 this year, police finally reported that a young 13-year-old girl was raped by another asylum seeker at a refugee facility in Detmold, Germany. The rape actually took place in June, but police kept silent about it for several months not wanting to alarm the local German population. It was only after a local media outlet published a story about the crime that it came to light. According to German social work organizations large number of women and young girls housed in refugee shelters in Germany are being raped, sexually assaulted, or forced into prostitution by male asylum seekers.
"An editorial comment in the German Newspaper Westfalen-Blatt said police are refusing to go public about the crimes involving refugees because they don’t want to give legitimacy to criticism of the dangers of mass unchecked migration from the Middle East. In this refugee population there are many elements that neither Europe nor the US would invite in and the challenge is separating them.
"Europe is dealing with a stark reality that it does not want to face, and would prefer to turn a blind eye. Police in the Bavarian town of Mering have issued a warning to German parents not to allow their children to go outside unaccompanied. In another Bavarian town, Pocking, administrators at the Wilhelm-Diess-Gymnasium have told parents not to let their daughters wear revealing clothes to avoid “misunderstandings” by the large number of refugees in their town.
"These are not the only troubling actions unfolding in Germany, a country which has pledged to take more refugees than any other country in the European Union. Levels of violent crime brought about by groups from the Balkans and the Middle East have turned certain cities, such as Duisburg into “no-go” zones for police, according to a police report from their headquarters in North Rhine-Westphalia, which is the most populous state in Germany. This report states that the ability of the police to maintain public order “cannot be guaranteed over the long term” according to Dr. Spiegel, the news magazine which leaked the report.
"There are districts where immigrant gangs are taking over entire metro trains for themselves. Local residents and business people are being intimidated and silenced. People taking trams during the evening and nighttime describe their experiences as 'living nightmares.' Policemen, and especially policewomen, are subject to 'high levels of aggressiveness and disrespect.'
"Unassimilated refugees and immigrants have turned large sections of Europe’s great cities into “no go” zones where even the police don’t go. Jewish emigration from France is the highest since World War II.
"In the near term, nothing will change, according to the report. The reasons for this: the high rate of unemployment, the lack of job prospects for immigrants without qualifications for the German labor market and ethnic tensions among migrants. The Duisburg police department now wants to reinforce its presence on the streets and track offenders more consistently.
"I’m not suggesting that every refugee or even the majority of these refugees, are engaged in such criminal activity. It is a very small number. But, what I am suggesting is that there are some among them who have terrorist intentions that have infiltrated these communities and it is difficult to screen them.
"President Obama’s plan is a potential national disaster waiting to happen. No one is saying we should not help those who are in refugee camps. We should. America is the most generous and compassionate country in the world. We already are spending $4.5 billion in humanitarian aid, food, shelter, and medicine for these displaced persons in the refugee camps. What we should not do is endanger the American people and the safety of our children and grandchildren.
"Each of us serving in this body took an oath to support and defend the Constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic, and ISIS has already exploited this UN program to infiltrate Europe. We have a sworn duty to prevent foreign enemies from entering the U.S. and allowing them to become domestic enemies, particularly at taxpayer expense. The President’s plan and the current policy of the Refugee Resettlement Act defies all logic.
I’m sure I will be criticized and attacked for making this speech and sharing these very disturbing facts with you today, but I am compelled by the oath I took when I was sworn in as a Member of the U.S. Congress to put the safety and security of the American people above political correctness. I didn’t come to Congress to be politically correct. I came to uphold the U.S. Constitution and to protect our national security. Protecting our American way of life – the greatest experiment in liberty and freedom in all human history – is our highest calling as elected leaders of this great nation.
"Those who criticize me for these remarks should instead turn their criticism toward those who are exploiting refugees and to the terrorists who are infiltrating these very refugees who are entering Europe and the United States.
"I encourage my colleagues to further investigate the federal Refugee Resettlement Program and to join me in calling for a moratorium on the President’s proposal while we fully examine the costs to the American taxpayer and the national security implications of his policies.
"Let us reassert our Congressional authority over the refugee program, and put the safety and security of the American people above all else.
"It is crucial that Congress take a look at the results of my proposed reassessment of the Refugee Resettlement Program, its cost to the American taxpayer, its threat to our national security and its impact on our small towns and communities by passing H. R. 3314, the Resettlement Accountability National Security Act of 2015.
"Thank you Mr. Speaker, and with that I yield back."