Congress is Investigating Asylum Seekers with Terror Ties

Last year, I discussed how the United States should be among the countries offering asylum to Iraqi Christians. The same can also be said about Christians in all territories currently under the Islamic State’s control. However, our offer of asylum should not come without attempting to weed out those who could be threats to America.

Unfortunately, some with ties to terrorist groups have managed to slip in among the legitimate asylum seekers. As Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon notes, the United States Customs and Immigration Services has found that 638 aliens seeking asylum here are known to have terror ties. Understandably, there are plenty of people in Congress who would like an answer for this, and several high ranking Republicans have sent out a letter to Homeland Security Jeh Johnson requesting answers. You can find the full letter at the House Judiciary Committee website, but here’s the important part dealing with those asylum seekers who meet the “credible fear” requirement to bar them from acceptance:

In order to assess our concern, we request that you provide the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on the Judiciary with the following documents and information as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on June 3, 2015:

  1. A copy of the alien file (A-file) for each alien who was found to have a credible fear in FY 2014 and 2015 (through May 1, 2015) who USCIS also found the terrorism bar to asylum eligibility may apply.
  2. For each individual covered by the above request, identify whether the alien has been released, and for each alien who has been released, whether the release decision was made by officers of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or by an Immigration Judge (IJ) or the Board of Immigration Appeals.  For any alien who has been released by an order of an IJ, please state whether DHS filed a stay and/or an appeal of that decision.
  3. The number of cases nationwide where the asylum officer found a potential INA 208(b)(2)(A)(v) bar to asylum eligibility in a reasonable fear case.  For each individual covered by this request, please provide a copy of the alien’s A-file.

Please also make arrangements to brief staff of both Committees on this matter no later than June 5, 2015.  The restrictions against the disclosure of asylum-related material set forth in 8 C.F.R. §§ 208.6 and 1208.6 do not bar disclosure of this information to Congress.

This is an issue that has been known about for some time. Back in December, as the National Review notes, Secretary Johnson told the House Oversight Committee that he had found out about two men with terror ties who fled to Canada after being released by an American judge. Furthermore, confirming our suspicions, we also know that illegal aliens with terror ties have been entering the United States via Texas’ border with Mexico, and while they are not asylum seekers, the problems with relaxing the rules for entering this country remain the same in principle.

Digging a little further back to February of last year, we find that critics of the Obama administration’s decision to relax the terrorism bar to entry on asylum seekers appear to have been right in their concerns. From a Fox News article:

But critics say despite the good intentions, the change raises security concerns, particularly after a report published Thursday on asylum fraud.

“In light of these and other facts, it is thus deeply alarming that the Obama administration would move unilaterally to relax admissions standards for asylum seekers and potentially numerous other applicants for admission who have possible connections to insurgent or terrorist groups,” [mc_name name=’Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S001141′ ], R-Ala., said in a statement on Thursday. “We need to tighten security standards for asylum, not relax them even further.”

Sessions also complained that the administration was, on its own, altering the Immigration and Nationality Act. “What is the point of Congress passing a law if the administration abuses its ‘discretion’ to say that law simply no longer applies?” he said.

If the United States is going to relax any of its rules for entering the country and being granted legal status, whether as citizen or through the granting of asylum, it needs to be done in consultation with Congress. It’s the same principle behind conservative opposition to Obama’s illegal executive amnesty. The President is using executive discretion where, Constitutionally, he has no authority to do so.

I am all in favor of being liberal in our acceptance of asylum seekers, as the persecution faced by so religious minorities in much of the Middle East is horrifying to think about. Nevertheless, as a nation, we have every right to ensure that we should not have a “credible fear” that those we admit have ties to terrorist groups. We need to make sure Congress continues to investigate this issue further. We deserve to know the answers/