A Texas congressman who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee is calling on President Obama to abandon his plan to resettle thousands of Syrians displaced by that country’s civil war, saying the plan is “very dangerous” for America’s security.
The problem is that ISIS has already said it will infiltrate the ranks of the refugees being sent by the United Nations to various Western countries, said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.
McCaul wrote a letter to President Obama Thursday expressing concerns over the administration’s announced plans to resettle some 2,000 Syrian refugees in the United States this year. Another 10,000 to 11,000 are in the U.N. pipeline destined for America.
“Terrorists have made known their plans to attempt to exploit refugee programs to sneak terrorists into the West and the U.S. homeland,” read a statement released by McCaul’s committee Monday. “Chairman McCaul’s letter points out the potential national security threat this poses to the United States.”
In fact, it is already happening.
The police security service in Norway, which recently accepted 1,000 Syrian refugees from the U.N., found that between five and 10 had ties to Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS and the al-Nusra Front, a Norwegian newspaper reported.
The U.N. and the nine private resettlement agencies that contract with the U.S. government have been lobbying for the U.S. to up the ante and take in at least 65,000 Syrians by the end of Obama’s term in 2016. They have criticized the U.S. for not acting quicker to absorb greater numbers of Syrians displaced by four years of civil war.
Countering the ‘Jihad Caucus’ in Senate
Also, 14 Democratic senators led by Richard Durbin of Illinois, Diane Feinstein of California and Al Franken of Minnesota wrote a letter last month asking Obama to “dramatically increase” the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the U.S., sticking with the 65,000 number recommended by the resettlement lobby. This act earned the 14 Democrats the title of “Jihad Caucus” by Refugee Resettlement Watch blogger Ann Corcoran.
But McCaul’s Homeland Security Committee has been pushing for more caution, not less. His latest letter to Obama states:
“Simply put, we cannot screen against derogatory information we do not have. My committee and I have been sounding the alarm for months. I am deeply disappointed that your Administration failed to fully respond in a timely manner to our concrete requests on this important national security issue, including our February 19, 2015, letter from the Committee. …”
“Our outstanding questions have taken on greater urgency after ISIS demonstrated its ability to infiltrate and seize refugee camps in Syria earlier last month. I respectfully request that your Administration provide Members of the Committee of Homeland Security with a classified interagency briefing on these issues and a set of written responses from the Department of State and the FBI to the initial questions in February no later than July 7, 2015.”
New congressional hearing called for June 24
McCaul has scheduled a second hearing on the Syrian refugee program for June 24.
He held the first hearing on Feb. 11. In that initial hearing, Michael Steinbach, deputy director of the FBI’s counter-terrorism unit, said it was impossible to screen the Syrian refugees for ties to terrorism given that Syria is a “failed state” and the U.S. has no access to reliable law enforcement records or intelligence data.
Yet, the U.S. State Department under Obama and Kerry has continued to repeat the mantra that refugees are the “most rigorously scrutinized” of all immigrants and that the worries are not justified.
It comes down to which arm of the government Americans should believe – the State Department and Kerry or the FBI and Steinbach.
McCaul sides with Steinbach. He said in his first letter to Obama in February that he was concerned the Syrian refugee program would become a “jihadist pipeline” into the United States.
Once the refugees are screened, the State Department pays agencies to resettle them in more than 190 cities and towns across America. Among the contractors are Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the International Rescue Committee, Church World Services, Episcopal Migration Ministries and World Relief.
Meanwhile, the Syrians are already starting to show up in American cities and towns, such as Boise, Idaho, and Louisville, Kentucky. Of the 922 Syrians who have been resettled in the U.S. since the outbreak of the civil war in late 2011, more than 92 percent have been Muslims and only 5 percent have been Christians, according to latest State Department data.
A group of 22 Syrians has already arrived in Louisville, and hundreds more could arrive over the next fiscal year. They are being resettled by Catholic Charities, which contracts with the federal government through its parent organization, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
WND previously reported that the state of Idaho has also agreed to accept up to 2,000 mostly Syrian refugees over the next three years. Twin Falls will get about 30 percent of them with the remaining 70 percent going to Boise.
“Despite all evidence toward our homeland’s vulnerability to foreign fighters, the Administration still plans to resettle Syrian refugees into the United States,” McCaul said. “The Director of the National Counter-terrorism Center and the Deputy Director of the FBI both sat before my Committee this Congress and expressed their concern with admitting refugees we can’t properly vet from the global epicenter of terrorism and extremism in Syria.
“America has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees from around the world, but in this special situation the Obama Administration’s Syrian refugee plan is very dangerous.”
The Subcommittee on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence will hold a hearing on June 24 to examine the refugee resettlement program and “discuss vulnerabilities to our security exposed by the Administration’s plan,” McCaul said.
McCaul noted in his latest letter that two Iraqi refugees sent to Bowling Green, Kentucky, were arrested in 2013 for providing material support to al-Qaida.
Dozens of Somali refugees have also been arrested and convicted of the supporting terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida, al-Shabab and ISIS. In fact, the FBI’s latest “most wanted terrorist” was a Somali cab driver in northern Virginia.
The problem has gotten so bad in Minnesota that Andrew Luger, U.S. attorney for that state, admitted in April that “Minnesota has a terror recruitment problem.”
Costs of refugee program exceed $1 billion a year to taxpayers
Once they arrived in Kentucky, the refugees were signed up for federal and state aid, including help with housing, food stamps, Medicaid and cash assistance, Becky Jordan, Kentucky state refugee coordinator, told the Courier-Journal of Louisville. They’re also provided aid in finding work and lessons in English.
Louisville’s Bosniak-American Islamic Center “is gearing up to provide new furniture and additional support for the families,” according to the Courier-Journal report.
Islamic Relief USA is also helping Muslim refugees in Louisville, Detroit and Baltimore.
The group’s parent, Islamic Relief Worldwide, is the largest Islamic charity in the world. It has documented ties to terrorist organizations, according to a recent article by Alessandra Gennarelli for the Center for Security Policy.
The resettlement program costs the U.S. taxpayer more than $1 billion a year to administer. That cost does not include welfare benefits for which the refugees immediately qualify upon entry in the United States.
A Congressional Research Study published earlier this year reported that 74.2 percent of refugees resettled into the U.S. are on food stamps and nearly 25 percent live in public housing.
Syrian refugees by the numbers
The totals of Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. each year since 2012 are as follows:
2015: 587 (in less than six months)
The states that received more than 10 Syrians to date since 2012, according to the State Department, are as follows:
New Jersey, 31
North Carolina, 37
The religious affiliations of the 922 Syrians resettled in the United States since Jan. 1, 2012, are as follows:
Sunni Muslims: 798
Muslims (not identified as Sunni or Shiite): 49
Shiite Muslims: 8
Protestant Christians: 42
Orthodox Christians: 3
Roman Catholic: 1
The total number of Muslims, 855, accounts for 93 percent of the overall total of refugees coming from Syria.