Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) held a press conference today at his State Street office, in Bowling Green, to congratulate the Federal Bureau of Investigation for working in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies in their recent apprehension of potential terrorists. Noting that these Iraqi nationals were arrested “in our own backyard,” he stressed that collaboration between agencies is the key to effectively combating terrorism. “The citizens of Kentucky can be proud of the vigilance of their local and federal law enforcement,” he said.
Sen. Paul said that it is the primary duty of our government to provide for the defense of the people. “Law enforcement stands on the front lines of our battle against those who would do us harm, and we honor their service and efforts to keep us safe,” he said.
He went on to applaud the law enforcement community for their “exemplary work in apprehending these suspected terrorists,” but indicated that this case also raises many questions about federal immigration policies and their role in protecting our citizens. The senator listed some of these questions, which he plans to present to the relevant federal agencies to address:
- What safeguards are and should be in place to ensure political refugees are screened properly before being granted asylum in our country?
- If proper screening safeguards were in place, why would the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) or State not have known that the people in this case had been implicated for terrorist activity in conjunction with al-Qaida in Iraq?
- Nearly 400,000 non-immigrant visas were issued in 2010 - how can these agencies assure the American people that these people have been properly screened?
Sen. Paul insisted that the role of the federal government in the war on terror must include the ability to secure our borders and keep out those who wish to do us harm. “The men arrested last week had allegedly supported terrorism in Iraq. One of them was even in an Iraqi prison for having attempted to explode an improvised explosive device aimed at American soldiers,” he remarked, adding, “These circumstances then pose the question: How did they gain legal entry into the United States in the first place in 2009?”
Last year, Sen. Paul suggested suspending the issuance of student visas to certain countries with large occurrences of terrorist activity. Today, he announced that, in fulfillment of this pledge, he will introduce legislation calling for a moratorium on the issuance of these visas if proper oversight in the screening process has not been addressed by DHS and State. He will also be calling for hearings in the senate on procedures and safeguards for both visas and political asylum.
Sen. Paul concluded by saying, “The law enforcement agencies involved in this case upheld their responsibility to protect the safety of the American people. It is our duty to ensure all agencies are being as effective in their protection of our country.”