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National security is our greatest responsibility

 Last Friday, the nation of France — America’s first and enduring ally — suffered a devastating attack, and our hearts and prayers remain with her people in this time of mourning. We stand with them, resolute against these forces of evil that seek to destroy peace and prosperity in America and across the globe.

There is no doubt that we must address the threat of ISIS, which is expanding its efforts to recruit new radicals and train them to conduct jihad against innocents. ISIS and the Assad regime have also subjected the Syrian people to unspeakable violence and terror, inciting a refugee crisis, but we must remember that Congress has no greater responsibility under the Constitution than to protect the well-being of the American people.

Our intelligence and security leaders cannot say with certainty that an individual entering our country under refugee status poses no threat to our national security.

I am very concerned about the effectiveness of our current screening process for refugees; that is why I voted Thursday in favor of the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which halts the resettlement of Syrian refugees given the vulnerabilities in our security screening procedures.

Agency leaders have indicated on multiple occasions since the Syrian refugee crisis escalated that our screening process has significant weaknesses that have been exploited in the past.

Given that our screening process is not nearly as effective as it should be, it is imperative that we stop the intake of Syrian refugees at this time.

The SAFE Act, which passed the House with significant bipartisan support, pauses resettlements until such time that comprehensive background checks can be completed on all Syrian refugees seeking admittance into the United States. While we cannot justify the risks of admitting Syrian refugees without proper screening, we must maintain our ongoing commitment to provide humanitarian aid to innocent Syrians where we can and seek to assist them in seeking refuge in places closer to their homeland.

The Syrian refugee situation is but one facet of a much larger problem — the failure to degrade and destroy ISIS. Despite claiming that ISIS has been “contained,” the president’s supposed strategy to defeat ISIS has clearly been unsuccessful.

ISIS has continued to grow and expand its reign of evil in part because America has failed to effectively take the lead on the world’s stage to deter this precarious group of individuals.

It is my fervent hope this Administration will swiftly develop a strategy to defeat ISIS that the American people may thoughtfully and expeditiously consider.

Robert Hurt, a Republican, represents Lunenburg County in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached at his Farmville office at (434) 395-0120.