Rep. Zeldin speaks out about pausing Syrian refugee program

Congressman says Obama is exercising 'incredibly flawed judgement' amid new terror fears


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," June 17, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

TRISH REGAN, GUEST HOST:  All right, it's been less than a week since the Orlando massacre.  Now we're getting reports that nearly 450 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the United States in that time, in less than a week.  

And guess what?  Forty-nine of them are in Florida.  

Let's go to New York Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin for more.  

Congressman, these numbers are shocking, considering what is going on.  You say we got to hit the pause program on refugees altogether.  How do we do it?  

REP. LEE ZELDIN, R-NEW YORK:  Well, as far as these Syrian refugees who are coming in, we don't have a stable government in Syria where you have documentation, so that our federal agencies can say with confidence that individual A, individual B, C, that they don't pose a terrorist threat.  

So, if you allow 440 Syrian refugees to come in, and only two of them are going to try to carry out terrorist attacks, well, then you can't allow 440 to come in at all.  The fact is that if we want to deliver a humanitarian victory, you have to eliminate the threat over there.

A more stable, stabilized Mideast, that's a humanitarian victory.  The people who are fleeing Syria, they're the ones who need to run the country there long-term.  

REGAN:  Congressman, I should also point out that the pace of the refugees coming into our country, it has picked up immensely.  In fact, there were roughly 3,000 of the 4,500 refugees approved so far coming into this country just within the last six weeks alone.  

Why do you think the pace is picking up so much?  

ZELDIN:  Well, the president is exercising incredibly flawed judgment in not stopping this and actually speeding it up.  It is...

REGAN:  Is he desperate to get them all in here before his term runs out?  
Is that the issue?  

ZELDIN:  I would -- I think that that's a very fair, bold, but most likely very accurate assumption.  

I mean, he has limited time between now and January.  And what we're seeing across the board with a lot of policies with the president, across all sorts of federal agencies, is rushes to pass rules, legislating as if the executive branch is also Congress.  

This president -- and I have -- I strongly believe that.  He almost looks like he is -- he looks at him as a monarch, not just the executive branch, but also Congress.  

REGAN:  We have seen that, of course, the executive power being used over and over again.

But I keep bringing this up, because I question why he wants to bring 10,000 here, given that so many within his own administration have said, we cannot vet these people.

I question why Hillary Clinton wants to bring 65,000 Syrian refugees in. And you know what I keep hearing, Congressman, is that they can be vetted, they are being vetted, we have the proper things in place.

Is that just wishful thinking?  Is that the other side trying to say and justify why they're bringing so many here right now?  

ZELDIN:  Well, I think a lot of the left -- we have heard the term bleeding heart liberal.  A lot of the Democratic base believes that it's the right the to do to bring as many of these refugees in as possible for -- there are many members of the Democratic Party who may think that tens of thousands are not enough, and we're not doing our part until we bring in even more.  

So, Hillary Clinton, trying to win the Democratic nomination, takes a position endorsing tens of thousands because...

REGAN:  But what about common sense?  I don't know how this succeeds politically.  I Really question it.  And I have talked to a number of Democrats that privately will express concern about this, because they don't really want 65,000 Syrian refugees coming here either, given that ISIS has promised it will seed that population with jihadists.  

I don't know if that plays in Peoria as well as it, say, plays on coasts -- the East Coast and the West Coast.  

ZELDIN:  So, Hillary Clinton, instead of pandering to voters, telling them what they want to hear, a real leader would explain to her follower, would explain to Democratic Party voters, this is why 65,000 Syrian refugees is a bad policy.  This is why I don't support it.  

But instead of having that will, that strength to educate and motivate and inspire the base, instead, she just panders to it, because she wants to be president of the United States more than she wants to protect America's security at home and abroad.  

REGAN:  Yes, but, again, I go back and I just keep questioning, I don't know if that is really going to ring true with most of the country.  

I mean, yes, maybe some parts of the base.

ZELDIN:  I hope not.

REGAN:  But I think people are more moderate when it comes to something like this.  And common sense comes into play.  

And when you have got the head of the CIA saying, these people cannot be vetted, well, then you kind of scratch your head and say, listen, the head of the CIA says they can't be vetted.  Maybe I don't want them here.  

Thank you, Congressman.  Good to have you here today.

ZELDIN:  Thank you.  


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