Without seeking congressional approval, the Obama administration has relaxed immigration rules to allow individuals with “limited” terrorist contacts to enter the United States.
The change was published Wednesday in the Federal Register by the departments of State and Homeland Security, according to The Daily Caller.
Before the change, a person would be denied asylum if he had any association with terror activities, but now, those who render “limited material support” to terrorists will be granted refugee status.
“These exemptions cover five kinds of limited material support that have adversely and unfairly affected refugees and asylum seekers with no tangible connection to terrorism: material support that was insignificant in amount or provided incidentally in the course of everyday social, commercial, family or humanitarian interactions, or under significant pressure,” a Department of Homeland Security official told The Daily Caller.
The exemptions, described by the Homeland Security official as “common-sense” changes, were signed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.
“In addition to rigorous background vetting, including checks coordinated across several government agencies, these exemptions will only be applied on a case-by-case basis after careful review and all security checks have cleared,” the official said. “This exemption process is vital to advancing the U.S. government’s twin goal of protecting the world’s most vulnerable persons while ensuring U.S. national security and public safety.”
Some critics are questioning the wisdom of the rule changes — and the Obama administration’s authority to pass them without congressional approval.
“[T]here is a very legitimate question as to whether the administration actually has the authority to change the law in this way,” Jessica Vaughan, a former State Department official and the current director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, said in an email to The Daily Caller. “It seems to me that they are announcing that they will be disregarding yet another law written by Congress that they don’t like and are replacing it with their own guidelines, which in this case appear to be extremely broad and vague, and which are sure to be exploited by those seeking to game our generous refugee admissions program.”
The Daily Caller reported:
According to DHS, Section 212(d)(3)(B) of the INA allows either the secretary of state or DHS secretary in consultation with each other and with the U.S. Attorney General “to determine that certain terrorism bars of the INA do not apply.
While Vaughan conceded that there are a number of immigrants seeking protection who have been denied due to unintentional contact with terrorists, she sees the exemptions as likely another opportunity for people to get around the system.
“If the recent past is any guide, those evaluating these cases will be ordered to ignore red flags in the applications, especially if the applicant is supported by one of the many advocacy groups that have the ear of senior DHS staff,” Vaughan said. “The administration already approves of the admission of gang members as asylees and criminals in the DACA program and grants of prosecutorial discretion, so I don’t expect them to be troubled by the admission of terrorists and garden variety fraudsters in our refugee program. This is how we end up with families like the Tsarnaev brothers [the Boston marathon bombers], who were originally admitted for political asylum.”
The April sniper attack on a San Jose, Calif., electrical substation has also raised concerns that the incident may have been a dry run to disable U.S. power grids at a future date.
It was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the United States, Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time told The Wall Street Journal.
Former Florida Congressman Allen West described the incident to Newsmax Wednesday as an act of “asymmetrical warfare” committed by terrorist sleeper cells.
Yet the departments of State and Homeland Security chose this as the time to relax rules for aslyum-seekers and refugees.
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