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Sessions, Cruz Press Admin. On Immigration, Terrorism ‘Nexus’

In the wake of recent conspiracies and acts of terrorism committed by foreign-born individuals in the U.S., Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are pressing the Obama administration on “the nexus between terrorism and our immigration system.”

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson, and Secretary of State John Kerry dated Wednesday, the pair seek immigration data on foreign-born individuals the government has identified as being associated with or engaged in terrorist activity since February 26, 1993 — the date of the first World Trade Center bombing.

“We write regarding the alarming increase in the number of individuals in the United States who have engaged in acts of terrorism or conspired to provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations over the last year,” Sessions and Cruz explain in their letter.

“We would like to understand more about these individuals, and others similarly situated in recent history, and the nexus between terrorism and our immigration system,” they add.

According to Sessions and Cruz, at least 72 people over the past year “have engaged in or attempted to engage in acts of terrorism; conspired or attempted to conspire to provide material support to a terrorist organization; engaged in criminal conduct inspired by terrorist ideology; or who have been sentenced for any of the foregoing.”

At least 26 of the 72 individuals, the senators have identified as foreign-born — a number of who were naturalized — from Bangladesh, Somalia (5), Yemen, Bosnia (6), Uzbekistan (4), Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Syria, Iraq, Sudan (2), Ghana, and Kuwait.

In their missive, Cruz and Sessions highlight recent testimony FBI Director James Comey offered before the Senate Judiciary Committee, warning that while ”[w]e are stopping [terrorist plots] so far through tremendous hard work…it is incredibly difficult. I cannot see me stopping these indefinitely.”

“Just one week later, five of our fine service members were murdered in an act of terrorism in Chattanooga,” the senators wrote.

The alleged shooter, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, was born in Kuwait.

Following the shooting in July, Sessions sounded the alarm about the current immigration system’s vulnerabilities to terrorism.

“Our first national imperative is to improve USCIS screening of all applications and to redirect agency resources away from political missions and toward national security,” he said at the time noting that with the Census Bureau predicting another 14 million immigrants in the coming decade, it “is not mainstream, but extreme, to continue surging immigration beyond all historical precedent. It is time for moderation to prevail, and for us to focus on improving the jobs, wages, and security of the 300 million people already living inside our borders.”

Included in their letter is a database of “Publicly Identified Cases Involving a Nexus to Terrorism from July 2, 2014, through August 11, 2015.” In addition to their requests for data going back to 1993, the senators are calling on the administration to identify all the individuals’ countries of birth, dates of initial entry, immigration status at the time of their entry as well as immigration information about the individuals’ parents.

Read the full letter:

Dear Attorney General Lynch, Secretary Johnson, and Secretary Kerry:

We write regarding the alarming increase in the number of individuals in the United States who have engaged in acts of terrorism or conspired to provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations over the last year. During a recent hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Director James Comey warned that while “[w]e are stopping [terrorist plots] so far through tremendous hard work . . . it is incredibly difficult. I cannot see me stopping these indefinitely.” Just one week later, five of our fine service members were murdered in an act of terrorism in Chattanooga

Based on publicly available information, we have identified at least 72 individuals in the United States who, over the last year: have engaged in or attempted to engage in acts of terrorism; conspired or attempted to conspire to provide material support to a terrorist organization; engaged in criminal conduct inspired by terrorist ideology; or who have been sentenced for any of the foregoing. We would like to understand more about these individuals, and others similarly situated in recent history, and the nexus between terrorism and our immigration system.

Accordingly, please complete the following items and answer the following questions no later than September 4, 2015:

1.     Please coordinate between your Departments and any other relevant agencies to provide the information in the attached table titled “Publicly Identified Cases Involving a Nexus to Terrorism from July 2, 2014, through August 11, 2015.” Please also ensure the accuracy of the existing information provided therein and add any additional cases that are not currently listed involving similarly situated individuals during the same period.

2.     For each non-citizen or naturalized citizen listed in the attached table, please provide a complete, unredacted copy of the individual’s Alien File.

3.     Since February 26, 1993, please provide the number of non-citizens – broken down by immigration status – who have, at any time after their initial entry or admission to the United States, been identified by any federal agency as:

a.     A member of a terrorist organization,[1] or a member of a political, social, or other group that endorses or espouses terrorist activity;

b.     A representative of a terrorist organization, or a representative of a political, social, or other group that endorses or espouses terrorist activity;

c.     Having an association of any kind with a terrorist organization, or a political, social, or other group that endorses or espouses terrorist activity;

d.     Having engaged in terrorist activity;

e.     Having incited terrorist activity;

f.      Having engaged in criminal conduct inspired by terrorist ideology;

g.     Having endorsed or espoused terrorist activity, or persuaded others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or support a terrorist organization;

h.     Having received military-type training from or on behalf of any organization that, at the time the training was received, was a terrorist organization;

i.      Having provided material support to any terrorist organization;

j.      Having sworn allegiance to any terrorist organization, or to any person affiliated with any foreign terrorist organization; or

k.     Having attempted or conspired to engage in any of the associations or conduct listed above.

4.     For the individuals identified in Question 3, please provide the total number who have ever been prosecuted for a federal crime related in any way to terrorism.

5.     5.   For the individuals identified in Question 3, please provide the total number who are currently in the United States.

a.     Of those, please provide the total number who are currently in the custody of a federal, state, or local agency.

b.     Of those, please provide the total number who are currently in removal or deportation proceedings, and of those, how many are currently detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

6.     For the individuals identified in Question 3, please provide the total number who have been removed or deported from the United States.

7.     For the individuals identified in Question 3, please provide the total number who have been placed into removal or deportation proceedings, but who were allowed to remain in the United States.

8.     For the individuals identified in Question 3, please provide the total number who are currently believed to be outside of the United States and actively involved in any activity related in any way to terrorism.

9.     Since February 26, 1993, how many individuals have been denied admission to the United States pursuant to section 212(a)(3)(B) or (F) of the INA?

10. Since February 26, 1993, how many individuals have been denied a visa for any reason related in any way to terrorism?

11. Since February 26, 1993, please provide the number of U.S. citizens – broken down by natural-born and naturalized citizens – who have been identified by any federal agency as:

a.     A member of a terrorist organization, or a member of a political, social, or other group that endorses or espouses terrorist activity;

b.     A representative of a terrorist organization, or a representative of a political, social, or other group that endorses or espouses terrorist activity;

c.     Having an association of any kind with a terrorist organization, or a political, social, or other group that endorses or espouses terrorist activity;

d.     Having engaged in terrorist activity;

e.     Having incited terrorist activity;

f.      Having engaged in criminal conduct inspired by terrorist ideology;

g.     Having endorsed or espoused terrorist activity, or persuaded others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or support a terrorist organization;

h.     Having received military-type training from or on behalf of any organization that, at the time the training was received, was a terrorist organization;

i.      Having provided material support to any terrorist organization;

j.      Having sworn allegiance to any terrorist organization, or to any person affiliated with any foreign terrorist organization; or

k.     Having attempted or conspired to engage in any of the associations or conduct listed above.

12. For the individuals identified in Question 11, please provide the total number who have ever been prosecuted for a federal crime related in any way to terrorism.

13. For the individuals identified in Question 11, how many have been denaturalized for any reason pursuant to section 340 of the INA?

14. For the individuals identified in Question 11, how many have relinquished their citizenship pursuant to section 349 of the INA?

15. For the individuals identified in Question 11, please provide the total number who are currently believed to be outside of the United States and actively involved in any activity related in any way to terrorism.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. Please contact our staffs if you have any questions regarding this request.

Very truly yours,

Jeff Sessions

United States Senator

Ted Cruz

United States Senator

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