An audience member at Rep. Reed’s Saturday, November 14 Town Hall Meeting in Phelps presented him with the following (inaccurate) information: “The President went on record saying he wants to bring in 200,000 Syrian refugees. There was a diplomatic passport found on the body of a (Paris) terrorist.” The he asked Rep. Reed, “What say you about bringing in Syrian immigrants?”
I was pleasantly surprised at the way Rep. Reed responded:
“We can not let this radical extreme behavior change what made us great as a country. By that what I mean is what made us great as a country is our diversity, our rich immigration history, our willingness to bring people, allow people to come to America, as long as you follow the rules, and we have a secure way to have that done. So I’m not going to say one population we’re going to close all the borders to you and to and another population you have a presumptive pass and you can come on through without any security checks. What we need is to have a secure border system, and that should be the goal, not, some people now have knee jerk, and I get it that France and has temporarily closed all the borders…
…If the long term policy is that we’re going to close the borders and some how we’re going to build walls that somehow keeps us away from the rest of the world. It is just not realistic. It is not a solution that I think is good for us as a country long term. What made us great as a country is our willingness to be that leader and the ability to say we can keep ourselves safe—we’ll make that commitment but you can come so long as you go through the process.
I was stunned with his answer. I did not expect that Rep. Reed would celebrate the diversity of our society, and praise our willingness to bring people to our nation. Then, less than 72 hours later, we read something quite different when he issued his Press Release, “Reed Statement on Syrian Refugees”:
“I care about keeping Americans safe by keeping ISIS out of our country. It’s only right that we prioritize America’s security and thwart any potential act of terrorism on our soil. In light of the recent terror attacks in Paris, we need to stop the Syrian refugee program until the security measures are in place to guarantee our safety. We are a compassionate country and have demonstrated our humanitarian commitment with the billions of dollars we have provided in foreign aid to deal with situations just like this. However, we are extremely reluctant to allow this initiative to continue or expand until, at minimum, the Administration can actually demonstrate ways to keep us safe in the process.
On Thursday, November 19, Rep. Reed voted to approve H.R. 4038, The American SAFE Act, which would effectively shut down the U.S. Syrian refugee resettlement program. Presently refugee screening takes 18 months to three years and includes reference checks, finger printing, background checks, health tests, biographic checks, and consultations with nine different governmental agencies. HR 4038 adds more requirements to the vetting process. If the Bill passes the Senate, and both chambers override the President’s veto, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Director of National Intelligence will need to independently certify that a proposed immigrant from Syria or Iraq is not a threat to our security. Since the Civil War began four year ago, fewer than 2,200 Syrians have been admitted to the United States.
What hapnened between Saturday and Tuesday that caused Rep. Reed to change his mind on blocking the Syrians refugees from resettling in the United States? First he praised America for our “willingness to bring people to America as long as you follow the rules” and then voted to changes the rules, making immigration virtually impossible.
The dozen or so people left the Town Hall Meeting thinking that our congressman was sincere. Now we know it was political theater.
How can we believe what Rep. Reed tells us?