Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is throwing cold water on President Obama’s plans to expand the number of Islamic refugees entering the U.S. from Syria, saying it’s a recipe for disaster similar to what’s happening in Europe.
He urged Congress to use its only real power – the power of the purse – to stop a president who has often “run over Congress” to get his way.
In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday night, Sessions said Obama has ignored 72 documented cases of terrorist activity by suspected Muslim immigrants inside the United States since July of last year. Many of these terrorists came to the U.S. as refugees, a stark contrast to the “widows and orphans” meme put forth by the Obama administration and the myriad political and religious groups that support the resettlement business.
Sessions said his office sent the list of terrorist plots, many of them foiled by the FBI before they could be carried out, to the administration more than four months ago and asked for the immigration histories of each suspect.
Sen. Ted Cruz also co-signed the request sent to the Obama administration with an attached list of 72 individuals charged or convicted of terrorism.
“We asked for the immigration histories of each one of these individuals,” Sessions said. “Isn’t that a good thing to know? Shouldn’t we as policy makers know how these terrorists got into the country? Well, stunningly, the administration just refused to respond. They think if maybe they ignore these requests then people won’t know and begin to question how things are being conducted. Congress should not acquiesce to the president’s refugee funding request when he refuses to even publicly disclose the immigration histories of these 72 terrorists, many of whom are connected to ISIS – al-Qaida and ISIS.”
“The president persists in this plan even though his own officials, testifying before my [immigration] subcommittee, conceded there is no database in Syria with which to vet refugees. Moreover, as his officials concluded, there is no way to prevent refugees from radicalizing after their entrance to the U.S – just as has happened unfortunately with Somali refugees,” Sessions said.
Creating conditions for radicalization
“So it’s an unpleasant but unavoidable fact that bringing in large unassimilated flows of migrants from the Muslim world creates the conditions possible for radicalization and extremism to take hold, just like they’re seeing in Europe.
“The FBI director tells us there are now active ISIS investigations in all 50 states. They’ve got a terrorist investigation involving ISIS in every state today. I think there are 900 open cases.”
This requires an effort encompassing thousands of federal agents and attorneys costing billions, misdirecting their efforts from other cases such as bank fraud and welfare fraud, he said.
“And their abilities have been limited by restrictions on their ability to conduct surveillance. In effect, we are voluntarily admitting individuals at risk of terrorist and then, on the back end, trying to stop them from committing bad, violent designs.”
More than 90 percent of refugee applications from Syria have been approved, according to the State Department.
The Syrians now flooding into the United States are more than 97 percent Muslims, and evidence is building that Muslim officials within the United Nations refugee camps discriminate heavily against Christians.
A new poll out this week by Bloomberg showed that a majority of Americans across all party lines, 53 percent, are against the resettlement of Syrian Muslim refugees in their cities and towns.
Sessions has called for Congress to defund the refugee program, rather than merely ask for greater assurances that refugees can be vetted, as does Speaker Paul Ryan’s bill, passed by the House Thursday.
“It would be unthinkable for Congress to acquiesce to the president’s refugee funding request when he refuses to even publicly disclose the immigration history of these 72 terrorists, many of whom are involved with ISIS,” Sessions said.
Watch video of Sen. Jeff Sessions’ full speech on Obama’s refugee plans
Sessions’ argument against the refugee program is two-fold – both on costs to the economy and risks to national security.
He said every penny of the $1.2 billion annually that it costs to administer the program, not to mention the billions more in welfare largesse offered to the refugees on day one of their arrival, must be borrowed.
The majority of that $1.2 billion is then shoveled to nine private contractors, six of which are affiliated with religious denominations such as the Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Jewish and evangelical organizations.
“It’s not a healthy thing; it’s very, very expensive,” Sessions said. “And there are enormous security concerns as well. We’ve seen a number of refugees implicated in terrorist activities inside the United States. We wish it weren’t so, but it’s a fact. Yet in this environment of increasing federal debt, wage stagnation, driven by excess labor supply, and ISIS terrorists trying to infiltrate as refugees, President Obama has announced a unilateral expansion of the refugee program to admit many more Syrian refugees. This at a time when 82 percent of the voters say projected growth in immigration should be curbed, according to Pew Research polling.”
‘American people are mean or unkind’
Sessions, a former federal prosecutor, said Obama officials are emitting “spin” on the refugee vetting process.
“We have our own problems. We’ve had 9/11, the Boston bombers, Chattanooga shooter, and look what’s happening in Europe. So I don’t think the American people are ‘mean’ or unkind. They’re just rightly concerned to protect their families, their nation and their interest.
“So the safe and proper course should focus on regional resettlement.”
For the cost of resettling one refugee in America, the U.S. could help 12 refugees in the Middle East region, according to a study by the Center for Immigration Studies.
It doesn’t make sense to depopulate the Middle East by shifting that burden to the West, Sessions said.
For years the U.S. has taken in and permanently resettled 70,000 foreign refugees. Obama wants to increase that to 85,000 in fiscal 2016 and 100,000 in fiscal 2017.
Secretary of State John Kerry has admitted that the administration may bring in even more Syrian refugees than it has officially disclosed.
What should Congress do to stop a program that the people oppose and Congress has not approved?
“The answer lies in the power of the purse,” Sessions said. “Each and every year the president submits a request to congress to fund. Congress, who has been run over numerous times by this administration, must not write the blank check that the president is asking.”
The West is facing a humanitarian crisis of monumental proportions. That is largely a crisis of the Obama administration’s own making, Sessions said, because it has mismanaged its Middle Eastern foreign policy.