Paul: To Prevent Terrorism, US Should Halt Immigration From 'High Risk' Nations

Sam Dorman | December 7, 2015 | 1:52pm EST
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Police in San Bernardion, Calif. surround black SUV after a shootout that killed terror suspects Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik. (AP photo)

( -- In the wake of last week’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says the United States should shift its focus away from bulk data collection and simply stop all immigration from "high risk" countries to prevent future attacks.

“I think what we've had in the past is the government has said, ‘Well, we need to collect the whole haystack.’ And the haystack is Americans' privacy,” Paul explained Sunday on Meet the Press.“Every Americans' privacy. We have to give up all of our privacy.

"But what I'd like to do is make the haystack smaller. So I think that we have to be very careful about who comes here from the Middle East. And I've introduced legislation to say, ‘For right now, let's stop it,’ from about 34 countries.”

Paul submitted an amendment last week calling for moratoriums on visas and refugee admissions from many African and Asian “high-risk” countries. These included Iraq, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian territories.

Paul's comments were in response to a question from Meet the Press host Chuck Todd about what he would say to make Americans feel safer in the context of a discussion on whether the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk collection of phone records was appropriate.

“You were on the forefront of trying to change this law. Any second thoughts?” Todd asked.

Paul replied that NSA's phone data collection was still occurring, but had failed to thwart any terrorist attacks. He also framed the decision to monitor phone records as a trade-off between liberty and a false sense of security.

"It's been ongoing for the last six months. So the Paris tragedy... happened while we were still doing bulk collection, all bulk collection. Also in France, they have a program a thousand-fold more invasive, collecting all of the data of all of the French. And yet, they still weren't able to see this coming," Paul responded.

“So my question is, how much liberty do we want to give up for a false sense of security? The government has investigated our program of collecting, through a generalized fashion, everyone's phone records in the country. And they have found that no terrorist case has been thwarted through this,” Paul stated.

In response to his call to stop immigration from the Middle East, Todd said: “That’s a version of profiling.”

To which Paul responded, “Well, people who want to come to this country don't have constitutional rights. Once they get here, they do. But coming here is not a constitutional right.”

Paul went on to decry the current state of migrant vetting and asserted America’s ability to choose who comes and doesn’t come into the country. “So we do, as a nation, have the ability and should have the ability to decide who comes here and when they come here.

“Right now, we don't know who is here. The woman that was admitted, that ended up being married to this terrorist, I don't think she was properly vetted. I think she came here and I don't think we adequately knew enough about her.

“And I think also there's some indication that the papers she filed to come here were a lie to begin with. So I don't think we're doing an adequate vetting process of those who are coming to our country,” Rand said.


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