Humphrey School president testifies on Syrian refugees

The dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at University of Minnesota was center stage in Washington D.C. Thursday.

Eric Schwartz was a panel member for a US Senate committee meeting on ISIS’ impact on refugee resettlement.

Schwartz is known for his work both at the United Nations and the State Department. Prior to coming to the University of Minnesota, Schwartz served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Thursday, Schwartz presented his knowledge of the refugee resettlement program to the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

He told the committee that the refugee resettlement program has far better safe guards than other federal programs that jihadi fighters could use to gain access to the US.

"The refugee program is not anywhere near the major threat,” he said. "Shouldn't we be targeting the programs that have the biggest problems, rather than the refugee resettlement program which has a significant and substantial number of safe guards."

Schwartz also pointed to US relations with Middle Eastern and European allies as a reason to accept an increased number of Syrian refugees.

"We are in a conflict and we need our friends to be with us,” he said. “If you want your friends to be with you, then you need to be willing to share some of the burden, and if you look at the burdens we're being asked to share, they are extremely modest."

The panel discussion came only hours after the US House easily passed a bill that will tighten security on the refugee program.

In an interview with Fox 9 following the hearing Thursday, Schwartz called the bill a “big mistake”. Telling the committee, "I would really think long and hard on this issue of additional legislation because of my concern that it does play right into the narrative of us against them."