Islamic terrorists—including two al Qaeda affiliates indicted last year in Kentucky—have entered the United States legally through a resettlement program that helps tens of thousands of “the world’s most vulnerable refugees” start a new life in America each year.
Known as the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), it’s a joint venture between the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Homeland Security agency that oversees the nation’s lawful immigration. The two agencies are responsible for deciding which refugees are granted USRAP resettlement consideration. USCIS is hands on and conducts individual, in-person interviews with applicants to determine if they meet the refugee criteria.
Most of the refugee referrals are made by the notoriously corrupt United Nations, which has published an extensive handbook on the subject. In a nutshell here is the criteria; a refugee must have a well-founded fear of persecution based on at least one of the following—religion, political opinion, race or nationality. This means there is a continued need for protection and candidates should be granted permanent residence status with access to rights similar to those enjoyed by nationals, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) guide.
In fiscal year 2011 Uncle Sam generously offered 56,424 persecuted foreigners refuge and in fiscal year 2012 the number increased to 58,236, according Barbara Strack, the Refugee Affairs Division Chief at USCIS. This week Strack testified at a congressional hearing, “Terrorist Exploitation of Refugee Programs,” that addressed the serious security vulnerabilities in her division. She told the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligencethat the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “has been working closely with interagency partners to improve, refine, and streamline the security vetting regime for refugee applicants and for other immigration categories.”
Last May two Iraqi nationals who were given refugee status under USRAP were arrested and federally indicted for plotting to send weapons and money to al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) as well as conspiracy to kill U.S. national abroad. The men, Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, lived in Kentucky and have pleaded guilty to the charges, which are outlined in this FBI document. They are scheduled to be sentenced early next year.
At this week’s hearing, the congressman who chairs the counterterrorism and intelligence committee revealed that the Kentucky case is not a fluke and that the “threat posed by refugees with ties to al Qaeda is much broader than was previously believed.” He reiterated the testimony of FBI Director Robert Mueller before a House Intelligence Committee last year, in which the FBI chief admitted ongoing concerns about individuals who may have been resettled here in the United States that have some association with al Qaeda in Iraq.
USRAP, which has helped relocate millions of refugees over the decades, has come under fire in recent years because it’s gotten too big and security measures are lax. A report released last year by a nonprofit that researches immigration matters says this is because the U.S. has lost control of the program, instead surrendering to U.N. policies to determine who’s admitted and because meaningful background checks are difficult to obtain for refugees admitted from countries without reliable government records.
As a result the program is a bloated disaster, admitting nearly three times the number of refugees as the rest of the developed world combined, the probe found. Additionally, the investigation found that “common criminals, war criminals, international fugitives, and terrorists have all used the USRAP and its related asylum provisions for entry into the United States.” Here is another interesting tidbit: “Bribery of U.N. officials is commonly reported among those attempting to secure refugee admission to the United States.”