WASHINGTON, D.C. and AUSTIN – In the wake of what many are labeling the worst attack on France since World War II, policymakers across the world are scrambling to voice their opinion and make their platform known.
Others, like US Congressman Roger Williams and newest Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, are taking direct aim at policies already in place.
Congressman Williams, Representative of the 25th District of Texas that stretches from south Fort Worth to northern Travis County and includes Somervell, Erath and Hood counties, first expressed his discontent with President Barack Obama’s request to allow an additional 10,000 Syrian refuges to enter the United States by the end of the fiscal year via social media on Monday.
Less than 24 hours later, Williams announced that he is working on new legislation that will prevent the admittance of the additional refugees and “immediately eliminate current federal funding for such programs.”
“President Obama hasn’t developed a single legitimate plan for Syria even though the conflict has been waging for years,” said Williams on Tuesday morning from his office in Washington, D.C. “Unbelievably, the attacks in Paris still haven’t convinced our commander-in-chief to develop an appropriate course of action to defeat ISIS.
“So, as a member of Congress, I am picking up where this president has fallen short.”
Williams also made clear that the current screening process for Syrian refugees has proven to be more than ineffective, a fact that was first stated by FBI Director James B. Comey in which he explained, “We can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of [the Syrian refugees].”
“There is no way to weed out future radical Islamist extremists who plan and carry out attacks after they arrive here,” Williams continued. “We need to secure our borders and we need to secure them now more than ever.”
Also on Tuesday morning, Speaker Ryan announced that he will be signing the newest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by the end of the day. The NDAA is a required budget that outlines the monies available to the Department of Defense and its agencies to spend on research and design of the most modern defense technologies.
“What happened in Paris on Friday was an act of war, and the world needs American leadership,” said Ryan via Twitter. “The NDAA bill that I will sign today requires the president to come up with a plan for defeating – not just containing – ISIS. Our nation has always been welcoming, but we can’t let terrorists take advantage of our compassion.
“We should not bring Syrian refugees into this country unless we can be 100 percent confident that they are not here to do us harm. The ultimate solution to this crisis is a strategy to defeat ISIS. All of this rises above politics. It is about our national security.”
How we got here and Gov. Abbott’s initial response
On Nov. 12 President Barack Obama claimed ISIS was “contained” during a publicly aired interview with ABC’s Good Morning America.
A little over 24 hours later, the Syrian-based terrorists group slaughtered 129 French citizens in Paris, according to French police documents, and wounded another 352.
Over the weekend, France sent over 12 jets armed with 30-plus bombs, donning the message “From Paris with love” on the outside of each, to ISIS strongholds in Syria in an attempted counterstrike.
During a Sept. 10 press conference held at the White House, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest issued a statement on Obama’s behalf outlining the president’s desire for the U.S. to “accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year,” in order to keep pace with European countries and their efforts to resettle Syrian refugees.
Fast-forward to Monday, Nov. 16, when French authorities released the name of the man who they believe responsible for Friday’s deadly attack on Paris – Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
Abarroud, 27, has direct ties to Syria and the Islamic State, according to French police documents.
Also on Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott – along with several other political figures, including representatives of Somervell County residents – launched a counterstrike of his own.
“As governor of Texas, I write to inform you that the State of Texas will not accept any refugees from Syria in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack in Paris,” said Abbott in his letter addressed to The Honorable Barack Obama. “Further, I – and millions of Americans – implore you to halt your plans to accept more Syrian refugees in the United States. A Syrian “refugee” appears to have been part of the Paris terror attack. American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger. The reasons for such concerns are plentiful.”
The Governor concluded his letter to Obama by informing the POTUS that the Texas Health & Human Services Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program will not continue to participate with in the resettlement of Syrian refugees to the State.
“I urge you, as president, to halt your plans to allow Syrians to be resettled anywhere in the United States. Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity.
“As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril.”
Backing Abbott’s play
Gov. Abbott was one of the first political figures to take a stand against the continued efforts of the president to allow for the relocation of Syrian refugees to the U.S., but he was certainly not the last. Presidential hopefuls, senators, congressman and local city officials voiced their grievances, as well.
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, Somervell County's voice in the U.S. House of Representatives, was one of the first of the policy makers to back the governor's play.
"I applaud Governor Abbott and more than one dozen governors who will reject President Obama's Syrian refugee plan," said Williams on his Facebook page. "I am working on legislation to disapprove of the president's plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States and eliminate federal funding for these programs.
"As commander-in-chief, President Obama, for years, hasn't developed a single legitimate plan for Syria, and foolishly he is staying the course. We need to secure our borders and we need to secure them now more than ever."
Also in support and as a display of solidarity, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released a statement to media personnel early on Monday afternoon.
“I fully support Governor Abbott’s decision to not accept any refugees from Syria in light of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris,” said Patrick in his official statement. “The threat of another terrorist attack on any country is real and Texas must always remain vigilant.”
As of late Monday afternoon, Arkansas, Michigan and Alabama have all joined Texas in denying the immigration of Syrian refugees.
State Sen. Brian Birdwell, representative of District 22 that encompasses Somervell County, and State Rep. JD Sheffield, also a representative for Somervell County, have both been contacted to gauge their support of Abbott and thoughts on the president’s request to allow additional refugees, but have yet to return calls or emails. Continue to check back to yourglenrosetx.com and this article for updates throughout the publication week.