FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy made a call Thursday for measures to strengthen the federal Visa Waiver Program, calling for more scrutiny of the 20 million people who come to the United States each year with expedited documents.
It’s “commonsense that those on the terrorist watch list shouldn’t be able to buy guns,” Murphy said. He called for measures "to make sure that terrorists are on the same list as criminals of those who are prohibited to buy guns."
His statement came just days after ISIS took responsibility for the terror attacks in Paris that left 129 people dead and hundreds more wounded.
During a press conference with Senate Democrats, Murphy – who is the co-author of the bipartisan Judicial Redress Act – emphasized the importance of EU-U.S. law enforcement cooperation in keeping Americans safe.
He called for a bipartisan effort to close a loophole that currently allows individuals on the terror watch list to purchase firearms and explosives in the United States.
There is rigorous methodology in place "to screen the relatively small number of refugees that are fleeing violence from places like Syria. And it simply stands to reason that instead of focusing on 2,000 highly vetted immigrants, we should be focusing on the 20 million lightly vetted immigrants who come to this country every year," he said.
Murphy will join U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) to work on legislation to tighten the Visa Waiver Program and for European countries to populate the No Fly List with the best information available.
Murphy also made a bid for humanitarian efforts to aid refugees from war-torn Syria, emphasizing that the refugee program serves to rescue mostly women, children, and the elderly who have been victims of terror abroad.
"America at its best is able to secure our borders and rescue others who have been victims of horrific terrorist attacks," he said. "Those are the individuals that the refugee program targets. That’s why 98 percent of the refugees who have been brought here over the last year are not military-age, single males. They’re women, they’re children, the sick, the frail – those that have been beaten, those that have been battered, raped, and tortured.
"America can, at the same time, protect our country and help rescue others who have been victims of torture and terror. And that’s going to be our focus moving forward."
Murphy's remarks came as dozens of states have called for a ban on Syrian refugees. Connecticut, meanwhile, continues to welcome refugees. Gov. Dannel Malloy announced Wednesday that a Syrian family of three rejected by Indiana instead had come to Connecticut .
That brings the total number of Syrian refugees who have moved to Connecticut in the past year or so to 42.