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Congressman Dan Donovan

Representing the 11th District of New York


Donovan, House Homeland Security Committee Examine Terrorist Exploitation of Refugee and Visa Programs

February 4, 2016
Press Release
At Congressional hearing, Donovan questions U.S. security officials on missing Syrian and Iraqi passports

Washington, DC—February 4, 2016….Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) and his colleagues on the House Committee on Homeland Security yesterday questioned intelligence and security officials on vulnerabilities in America’s refugee and visa programs. Donovan focused his questions on the risks to America posed by hundreds of thousands of stolen or lost Syrian and Iraqi passports.

According to the 9/11 Commission, “For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons.” Two terrorists in the Paris attacks used fraudulent Syrian passports to enter the European Union through Greece, and Donovan asked the witness panel whether the missing documents pose a security threat to America.

Donovan said in the hearing, “The proliferation of genuine documents used maliciously by groups like ISIS presents a real challenge for our screening process. What are your agencies doing to combat this issue?”

The security officials acknowledged the problem and said they are taking appropriate measures to address any vulnerabilities that may exist. Terror plots and attacks, including San Bernardino and the recent arrests of Iraqi refugees in Houston and California, make it clear that the Department of Homeland Security must be vigilant in shoring up America’s refugee and visa screening processes.

Yesterday’s hearing follows Donovan’s vote last year in support of the American Safety Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which stipulates that no refugee from Iraq or Syria may enter the United States until federal security agencies certify that the refugee does not pose a threat.

Donovan said, “Securing the homeland is government’s most fundamental responsibility. As New York City’s only representative on the House Committee on Homeland Security, I’ll continue fighting to make sure our families and neighborhoods are safe.”

Note: Video of the hearing can be found on Congressman Donovan’s Facebook page,