Rep. Brian Babin (R., Texas) blamed the Syrian refugee crisis on President Obama’s decision not to act with force after Bashar al-Assad crossed a red line by using chemical weapons against his citizens.
The congressman, who recently introduced a bill to analyze the costs and national security implications of the refugee resettlement program, said that Obama’s weak foreign policy has exacerbated the chaos in the Middle East.
"I think that it is the cause of our refugee crisis," Babin said when asked how the president’s lack of firm action against Assad has contributed to the approximately 4.1 million refugees fleeing Syria amid civil war.
"I think that his weak, vacillated foreign policy and his decisions and him drawing the red line and then doing nothing after the red line is crossed by Assad has created this entire situation."
As throngs of refugees flock to the West to escape the Assad regime, Obama has ordered the government to accept no fewer than 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year. Secretary of State John Kerry has also said that the United States will increase the number of refugees it accepts annually to 85,000 in 2016 and 100,000 in 2017, representing a more than 40 percent increase over the number currently allowed in through the refugee program in just two years time.
Babin characterized the proposed increase as a "terrible and unwise idea," echoing concerns raised by James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, that members of the Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS) will infiltrate crowds of Syrian refugees flooding to Europe and the United States
"I don’t think that the United States needs to have an open-door policy—this Obama policy—that is going to allow ISIS to come into our country, set up bases of operation illegally at the taxpayers’ expense," Babin stated.
While the administration has insisted that the increased number of refugees will not hamper the security measures in place to screen the migrants, Babin said this process is already ineffective in ensuring the safety of the nation.
"It’s already ineffective. And loading tens of thousands more onto an already overloaded system, I think it’s going to be almost a completely useless endeavor to try to screen and vet these refugees," Babin said.
The congressman has sounded alarm about the refugee program and its costs to the American people. Babin introduced a bill in July that would halt the resettlement program until the Government Accountability Office performs an analysis of the federal and local costs of the program as well as an assessment of the program’s national security risks.
The legislation, entitled the Resettlement Accountability National Security Act (H.R. 3314), has notable cosponsors, including Reps. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Pete Sessions (R., Texas), who heads the House Rules Committee.
Babin said he has heard from multiple lawmakers in other states expressing worry about the "burdens" the refugee program places on local communities as well as the risks to the security of America.
"We know that ISIS has already pledged to exploit this refugee program," Babin said. "I’m a compassionate Christian, but I believe that my first duty as per my oath of office is the national security of the United States and the safety of its citizens."
A majority of voters oppose Obama’s plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country over the next year, according to Quinnipiac University polling released Monday. The opposition appears to stem from concerns over national security, as a majority also names the acceptance of thousands of Syrian refugees as a threat to America’s safety.
"I think overwhelmingly the American people want us to be wise in this regard," Babin said. "We are already helping these folks with billions of dollars and nutritional and medical aid in that part of the world. There are refugee camps and we need to support these."
The congressman said that, as with the refugee crisis, Obama’s foreign policy has also led to the rise of the Islamic State.
"We pulled our troops out of Iraq against the better judgment and advice from his own commanders," Babin, a veteran himself, said.
"I have a son who did three tours to the Iraq War—he was a Navy SEAL—and all the great work and the sacrifice of them taking that country and defeating al Qaeda and, in particular, [in] Al Anbar province, where my son was for his deployment … was the city of Ramadi. Now Ramadi, after the sacrifices and winning a victory there, ISIS controls that."
"You reap what you sow," Babin added. "This president’s decisions in our foreign policy have been the cause of what we’re seeing today. And now he wants the American people to pay for it even more so by allowing them to come into our country."
Babin blasted the president for the cuts made to the military during his six years in the White House, which have considerably eroded the country’s Army, Marine Corps, and Navy.
"We’ve just seen a backing away from America’s position as the benevolent world super power. And no one can fill those shoes like America can as the benevolent super power of the world. And when we pull back, it leaves a power vacuum, a void which [is] going to be filled by folks who are bad actors like ISIS, like the Iranians," Babin said.
"I think a strong, strong military is—it should be for winning wars—but as much as anything it should be to deter wars. And I think that our president’s foreign policy weakness and drawing red lines that he doesn’t enforce embolden our enemies to where they don’t respect us and our allies do not trust us."