Today, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson met with local leaders to discuss several topics, including RESTORE funding, off-shore drilling, the future of the federal courthouse in Pensacola and Defense appropriations.
On the Syrian crisis, Sen. Nelson made a distinction between the Syrian refugees coming into Europe and those arriving in this country. He said the refugees aren’t a problem for the United States, but the visa waiver given citizens from European countries is an issue.
“The problem right now is the visa waiver,” said Nelson. “Countries like France, England, Germany, all of their citizens do not have to have a visa to come into the U.S.–just like U.S. citizens don’t have to have a visa to go to Europe. Well, we now know, from the Paris problems, how many of the extremists, the radicals, the terrorists, are in fact French citizens and Belgium citizens, and we’ve seen in the past, in the U.K. and in Germany. That’s where we are having to tighten down the refugee problem, it’s actually a visa waiver, of making sure these people are not on the No Fly list.”
Sen. Nelson said the Homeland Security has already added increased security measures to deal with the visa waiver problem. He added, “One of the big helps would be is if the European countries would help us with our No Fly list by giving us their intel information on their supposed No Fly list so that we could combine them and double check them between all of us.”
Last week, the senator had expressed publicly concerns about the vetting process for Syrian refugees. He is now satisfied the process is working.
“Since then, I’ve talked to the Secretary of Homeland Security, the head of the FBI, the head of the CIA, and yes, they are going through an extensive background search and double checking,” said Nelson. “It takes up to two years, so you’ve got a pretty good idea at the end of two years whether or not this person is going to be a problem.”
The senator said that currently 2,000 Syrian refugees have settled in the U.S. over the past several years. About 175 have already settled in Florida.
He said, “Of those 2,000 that are in the U.S., not one of them has been involved in any kind of terrorist activity.”