Despite Warnings From High-Level National Security Officials Obama Pushes Forward With Refugee Plan
In February, top U.S. intelligence officials warned that ISIS was likely to attempt direct attacks on the U.S. in the coming year. They also disclosed what many people already suspected — that the terrorist group was infiltrating refugees, escaping from Iraq and Syria, in order to move across borders.
ISIS “will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in Europe, and attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016,” director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart testified at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also testified and estimated that violent extremists were active in around 40 countries. He also said that there are now more terrorist safe havens “than at any time in history.”
Clapper explained that ISIS and its eight branches were the No. 1 terrorist threat, and that the terror network was utilizing the refugee exodus from Iraq and Syria to hide among civilians in order to reach other countries.
According to Clapper, ISIS is, “pretty skilled at phony passports so they can travel ostensibly as legitimate travelers.” The group has reportedly seized Syrian passport facilities with machines capable of manufacturing passports.
This hearing followed the director of National Intelligence’s release of the “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.” And, that assessment indicates that “approximately five dozen” ISIS-linked individuals were arrested in the U.S. in 2015.
Last week, the head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Jeh Johnson said that America’s acceptance of Syrian refugees could pose a national security threat. Johnson admitted, even as President Obama is preparing for the U.S. to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees this year, that there are risks involved. “In all candor, I do agree that the refugee flow coming out of Iraq and Syria represents a potential opportunity for terrorist organizations to move its members into other nations for potential attacks,” Johnson testified before the House Homeland Security Committee.
Last year, the National Counterterrorism Center said that it had identified “individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through the U.S. refugee program.” Additionally, a British polling firm revealed that 13 percent of Syrian refugee camp residents have a positive view of ISIS.
Recent attempts to contain the flow of refugees into the United States include refugee registries and new legislation in the House. CS Monitor reports that, “Lawmakers in New York and South Carolina want to create a registry of refugees. In S.C., if refugees commit an act of terrorism, their sponsors, could be held liable.”
Sponsored by Sen. Kevin Bryant (R-SC), the bill has three components:
- A registry of all refugees
- Civil liability for sponsors of refugees from counties considered state sponsors of terror by the federal government (currently Iran, Sudan and Syria) for crimes committed by refugees
- A prohibition on the state spending any money on refugees and their families
Now, a fight is brewing in Congress over the refugees headed to the U.S.
Months after efforts to impose new limits on refugees failed in the Senate, the House is swiftly moving legislation through which would lower the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. It would also give Congress control of this issue, instead of the executive branch.
The Hill reports:
“On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee fired the first shots in the new battle by voting along party lines to give Congress control of the refugee program, instead of leaving it with the executive branch.
The legislation, called the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act, would also set an annual cap at 60,000 refugees — lower than current numbers — implement new screening measures, and give state and local governments power to reject the refugees.”
The bill passed through the committee just two days after it was introduced. But, State Department spokesman John Kirby echoes President Obama’s veto sentiment: “We are committed to meeting the president’s goal,” Kirby has said. “And, we’re going to keep working at that.”