Photos via Wikimedia Commons
Congressman Steve Israel (left) voted for the controversial American SAFE Act of 2015, while Congressman Joe Crowley (right) and five other Congress members representing Queens voted against it.

All but one of the seven members of Congress representing Queens County voted Thursday against a controversial bill regarding the processing of refugees escaping from war-torn areas of Syria and Iraq.

Congressman Steve Israel — whose district includes all or parts of Bay Terrace, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Little Neck and Whitestone — voted in favor of the American SAFE Act of 2015. He was one of 46 Democrats who crossed the aisle and sided with 243 Republicans on the measure.

The legislation, drafted in the wake of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, intends to increase the federal government’s review process for refugees coming to the U.S. from parts of Syria and Iraq under control of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The bill would grant refugee entry into the U.S. only after the FBI and Department of Homeland Security separately certified that the refugee passed a background investigation and does not pose a threat to national security. Supporters claim the increased provisions are necessary to guard against potential terrorists posing as refugees from sneaking into the country.

According to French authorities, eight individuals deemed responsible for the Paris attacks were all citizens or residents of France and Belgium. A Syrian passport found in the belongings of one of the attackers was believed to have been planted, according to published reports.

In a statement, Israel acknowledged that the American SAFE Act was “far from perfect,” but that “it simply puts additional safeguards in place on an already rigorous process.”

“First and foremost, we must have an ironclad process that thoroughly screens Syrian and Iraqi refugees,” Israel said. “But I also believe we must have a plan in place to allow a Syrian mother, who is trying to save her children from radicalization or murder at the hands of ISIS, to find a safe haven. This legislation does not shut the door on innocent women and children who can be certified as seeking refuge from ISIS.”

Queens’ other members of Congress — Joe Crowley, Hakeem Jeffries, Carolyn Maloney, Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng and Nydia Velazquez, all Democrats — voted against the bill. Congressman Crowley said in a statement that he believed the legislation doesn’t sufficiently increase national security and risks keeping out a vast number of refugees.

“I opposed this legislation because its sole outcome would be to substantially delay or even end the admission of women and children fleeing Syria and Iraq into the U.S. These are innocent people who have been brutalized by both their own government as well as Daesh (ISIS),” Crowley noted. “Protecting the American people from terrorism and providing protection to thoroughly vetted refugees are not mutually exclusive. The U.S. has long stood with those fleeing violence and persecution, and I believe we can – and must – stay true to our values while ensuring our national security.”


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Ed Lobel November 20, 2015 / 06:05PM
Steve Israel is not deserving of representing anyone,let alone the people in his congressional district. Are ALL ITALIANS member of organized crime? What about the Irish? Are they all "Whity Bulgers" waiting to murder someone? I would think not. Then why is this small minded man voting to not let Syrian refugees into our country? Is Israel in favor of taking down the Statue of Liberty because it is calling to people to come to America? Does he know that not one Syrian was involved in the terrible terrorist situation in Paris last week? He is letting republicans scare him as well as other people into thinking terrible things will hapen to the US. Everyone needs to be aware that the 9/11 terrorists were almost all Saudi Arabians and we NEVER stopped doing business with the Saudis or stopped any from coming here! Do republicans and Steve Israel want to stop any Christians from coming to the US after all Terry McVeigh a home grown terrorist was a Christian! Americans need to stop being afraid! Remeber there are 1.2 million very well trained police in this country. There are 800,000 National Guardsmen who are also very well trained and ready at a moments notice. Don't forget we have a standing army and air force of approximately 1.2 million people ready to defend the US, the best trained fighting force in the world on active duty in the US. Lastly let's not forget there are about 100 Million private citizens who own guns and would be winning to fight against any terrorist who dares to attack the US. Remember ISIS at it's fullest is about 80,000 men, women and children and no matter how well they think they are armed they are no match for our American people who would be glad to send them to their paradise!

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