Congressman Thomas J. Rooney

Representing the 17th District of Florida

Homeland Security

I am proud to serve on two Committees uniquely tasked to ensure that we have the necessary programs in place to keep us safe, the House Appropriations and Intelligence Committees. In the age of ISIS and nonstop social media, the whole process of radicalization—especially for psychotic lone wolf attacks—is very different from what it used to be. Appropriate responses to the threats to our homeland require a variety of military, Intelligence Community (IC), and law enforcement resources that can address the entire spectrum of the threats we face today and in the future. Law enforcement and the IC must remain increasingly vigilant in the fight against outside threats and homegrown terrorism to stop radical individuals before they can harm innocent Americans and it is my responsibility to help pass meaningful legislation to help curb future attacks and keep the American public safe.

Bolstering federal, state and local counterterrorism efforts: Working within budget constraints, I have supported increased funding for the FBI to maintain all of its critical functions and to improve its anti-cybercrime, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism programs. Ultimately, to preemptively stop U.S. citizens from carrying out future acts of domestic terrorism, law enforcement requires accurate and timely intelligence. The challenge facing the FBI post-9/11 is that intelligence gathering is largely driven by preventive policing. My job is to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to respond to these threats without impeding our constitutional rights. In addition to supporting the FBI's counterterrorism mission, we can enhance these efforts through grant programs, like the COPS program and Byrne/JAG program, that provide local law enforcement officers with resources they need to keep our communities safe.

Securing our borders: We know our borders are not secure—and so do the criminals, drug cartels, and violent extremists who continue to exploit vulnerabilities in our border security every day. Our southern border is nearly 2,000 miles long, and the northern border is twice that length, in addition to the thousands of miles of our maritime border that must be patrolled and monitored. The weaknesses in these areas offer bad actors a potential path into our country. As much as we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws – we cannot continue to tarnish our heritage by allowing these bad actors to exploit the system for personal gain or criminal activity. It is time to enforce our immigration laws and to tighten up security at all stages by conducting better screening of those seeking admission, tracking aliens in the United States, removing terrorists and criminals, and improving interior immigration enforcement. I serve on the House Appropriations Committee, which funds our border security initiatives, and I support increased investments in the deployment of fencing, technology, air assets, and personnel along our Southern border. We must promote a strong, multi-layered approach to prevent illegal entrants from defeating any one part of our security initiatives.

Strengthening our immigration laws: In December 2015, I was proud to support a bill that was signed into law to address vulnerabilities in the Visa Waiver Program. The new law requires countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program, mostly those in Europe, to provide counterterrorism information and other critical intelligence to the U.S. and denies waivers for individuals who have traveled to terrorist hotspots, like Iran and Syria. I also have serious concerns that the Administration will cut corners in the vetting process for refugees and doubts about our ability to determine the integrity of refugees applying to enter the U.S. from countries where the Islamic State is highly active. I support legislation that would require the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI director and the Director of National Intelligence to certify to Congress that each refugee is not a security threat prior to his or her admission to the U.S. I have also supported a limitation on funding for the Refugee Admissions Program in the 2017 funding bill for the Department of State that would cap the total number of refugees at the 2015 level of 70,000 (which was the annual admissions total for over a decade, prior to the president’s increase in 2016 to 85,000).