Trott: ISIS policy ‘anemic,’ refugee effort uncertain

U.S. Rep. Dave Trott

Families in Southeast Michigan are rightly concerned about the threat terrorism poses to our national security and America’s freedom. The recent attacks in Paris and the continued rise of Islamic extremist groups like ISIS have illustrated the terrible violence they are capable of inflicting. All Americans must recognize that if these terrorists can bring their deadly attacks to Paris, our nation also stands at risk.

I have argued for months that President Barack Obama must develop a successful strategy to defeat ISIS and at the same time immediately halt plans for Syrian refugee resettlement until those fleeing Syria can be properly vetted. The president’s own team has expressed concern that his refugee resettlement plan is susceptible and could pose a risk to America’s national security. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson stated, “We know that organizations such as ISIL might like to try to exploit this program.”

The administration has proven incapable of even being able to properly vet or identify what they refer to as “moderate Syrian opposition” — allies that America could train and rely on to fight ISIS. After spending $42 million in training, Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander leading the fight against ISIS, informed Congress that only “four or five” fighters trained were currently in Syria. Additionally, Syrian groups who received weapons from the U.S. voluntarily gave them to al-Qaida affiliated groups immediately after they finished their training and re-entered Syria.

Such an incomprehensible breakdown in screening has rightfully made Americans deeply skeptical of the president’s vetting procedures, and before we accept anyone into the United States, the administration needs to prove to the American people that we have an infallible, accurate and comprehensive vetting program.

There are those trying to trying to paint this position as being anti-refugee or uncompassionate. But those are political smokescreens to distract people from the needed debate over how to defeat terrorism and protect the American people. Our state has always been welcoming to people seeking a better life and those in need of shelter and a helping hand.

America continues to have one of the most generous refugee policies of any nation — we are the top resettlement country in the world, and we’ve been by far the largest sponsor of humanitarian assistance to Syria, contributing over $4 billion since 2012.

While pausing the refugee program is an important step, it’s even more important to develop a real strategy to defeat ISIS and stabilize Syria.

The president’s anemic policy regarding ISIS was clearly illustrated by his decision last week to finally authorize air strikes against fuel trucks in ISIS-controlled areas. For almost two years, ISIS has been making millions of dollars on the sale of oil on the black market, yet Obama has refused to strike the trucks transporting fuel as he deemed the drivers as “non-combatants.” Now he has finally authorized strikes against these fuel trucks. While it’s good to see this reversal, our military should have been bombing these trucks for the last two years in an effort to cut off the revenue ISIS needs to perpetuate its terrorism.

There is no question the president’s inaction has made the situation in Syria and the fight against ISIS immeasurably more difficult. It’s critical for America to lead the effort in forming a true coalition of nations willing to deploy troops to work with U.S. Special Forces to defeat ISIS and destroy its control over Iraq and Syria. At the same time, we must expand our airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to cripple the terror network’s infrastructure and movements. Only with a strong response of force against ISIS and common sense safety reforms here at home will America be able to defeat this enemy and ensure lasting security for our nation and nations around the world.

Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham, is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.