Monday, February 10, 2014

Easing of Asylum Rules Has Potentially Serious National Security Implications

Despite evidence of enormous levels of fraud, the Obama Administration eases asylum/refugee application processes for questionable applicants out of Middle East hot spots.

On the heels of a public revelation that a federal government report exists showing that as many as 70% of all asylum claims are fraudulent, the Obama Administration has released details of their plans to ignore that report and go forward with rule changes which make it easier to qualify for asylum in the United States. Details of the proposed rule changes relating to asylum appear in the article, below. It is interesting to note that, although this government report on asylum fraud was completed almost 5 years ago, it was not made “available” until now.

In light of this information, the question needs to be asked: Is there no shame among those in the Administration who, in the face of the reported outrageously high level of fraud, would make it even easier to qualify for this important benefit?

As one who, for six years, oversaw the processing of tens of thousands of Soviet, Iraqi, and Iranian Refugees, it is my opinion that this decision is indeed a threat to our national security.

Ben Ferro
benferro@insideins.com

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Obama Administration Will Ease Rules For Refugees, Asylum Seekers 

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is changing the rules for refugees and asylum seekers in the United States so that people will no longer be barred entry for providing incidental or unintentional support to terrorist organizations.

The new definition of what it means to provide “material support” to terrorists comes after years of complaints from human rights advocates that the old rules led to the exclusion of vulnerable refugees who pose no harm.

Among those turned away in recent months were a Syrian refugee who paid an opposition group to gain safe passage out of Syria and a farmer who paid tolls to a resistance group to cross a bridge to take his food to market, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The new rules exempt people with no tangible connection to terrorism who nevertheless provided material support, as long as it was insignificant in amount or rendered incidentally in the course of everyday interactions or under significant pressure. The exemptions were published Wednesday in the Federal Register.

Laws passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks barred admission of those who provided support to terrorists, and critics said the laws were so broadly applied that they led to the unfair exclusion of tens of thousands of refugees.

“It resulted in deserving refugees and asylees being barred from the United States for actions so tangential and minimal that no rational person would consider them supporters of terrorist activities,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “These changes help return our nation to its historic role as a welcoming sanctuary to the world’s most vulnerable populations.”

The U.S. granted asylum to almost 12,000 people in 2012, out of 44,000 who sought it, according to Justice Department statistics.

As about 2.4 million refugees of the conflict in Syria have made their way to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, human rights groups are pushing the U.S. to resettle at least 15,000 people a year.

“Several of the scenarios covered by these exemptions should not have been treated as ‘terrorist activity’ in the first place,” said Anwen Hughes, an asylum expert at the advocacy group Human Rights First. “We welcome these announcements for the practical relief they will provide to many refugees, but regret that the administration has not taken this opportunity to adopt a more sensible interpretation of the underlying statute, which is being applied to bar thousands of refugees from protection in the United States.”

Reprinted from an article by Christi Parsons, The Los Angeles Times