Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding the recent executive order putting a 90-day pause on entry of citizens from certain countries. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views and comments with me. As I have consistently said, I do not believe it is constitutional to ban people from our country on the basis of religion. However, I do support—and the House of Representatives has approved on a bipartisan basis—increased vetting based on national security concerns. We can protect our country while also upholding our constitutional principles and continuing our humanitarian efforts.
On Friday, January 27, the president signed an executive order that effectively halted the entrance of individuals from seven countries to the United States. It has become apparent that this order was not vetted through the proper legal channels with all of the appropriate agencies. Due to the fact that the order was overly broad, implementation of the executive order has caused significant, and unnecessary, chaos in terms of enforcement.
The order wrongfully included legal permanent residents (green cards holders) who have already undergone significant vetting. In our district alone, between 50 and 90 legal permanent residents were temporarily detained at Dulles International Airport on Saturday, January 28 as a result of this executive order. By Sunday, January 29, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly issued an order clarifying that lawful permanent residents from the countries in question must be allowed to enter the United States. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is also working to ensure that the U.S. is making good on its promises to foreign nationals who have provided material support in our fight against terrorists (for example, translators for our military) and not allowing them to be detained when they enter our country.
Rather than this poorly constructed, haphazard executive order, the administration could have used as guidance the legislative approach the House of Representatives voted on. H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act (SAFE Act), passed the house by an overwhelming bipartisan majority vote of 289-137 last Congress. Given the terrorist attacks perpetrated in France, Belgium, and elsewhere, the House came together on a bipartisan basis to provide further vetting consistent with our constitutional values to protect the security of our country.
During these troubling times, I also believe that we can assist and protect innocent refugees requiring humanitarian assistance. This is why I support the administration’s ongoing work with leaders from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to establish safe zones in Syria and Yemen where refugees fleeing terror stricken areas will find reprieve. We will also still be accepting refugees in this country with appropriate vetting.
We stand ready to assist anyone experiencing difficulty due to this order and require help with a federal agency. Please feel free to reach out to my Sterling District Office at 703-404-6903. Members of my staff and I have been in contact with officials at Dulles Airport, as well as the leadership at the ADAMS Center, and are ready to help any constituent or family member that needs help. My staff has also been in contact with local universities to address student visa concerns.
Please know that Congress is working with the administration to correct this matter. We will ask the president to consider alternative options to keep the American people safe while ensuring that the United States remains a leader in terms of protecting the human rights of the world’s most vulnerable citizens
Thank you again for contacting me. It is a privilege to serve you in the Tenth District. I may also be contacted at my Sterling office at 703-404-6903, or my Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-5136. By visiting http://comstock.house.gov, you can sign up to receive my email newsletters and follow my efforts to serve you. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates on my activities in Congress and in the District. If I may ever be of service, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Member of Congress