The Obama administration admitted 1,519 terror-linked refugees, asylees and migrants during 2014, by exempting them from a federal statute that bars entry to individuals with terror ties, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Many of the new would-be Americans provided material support to terrorist groups “while under duress,” said the report, titled the “Report on the Secretary’s Application of the Discretionary Authority Contained in Section 212(d)(3)(B)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”
None of the people admitted were members of anti-American jihadi groups, such as Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, HAMAS or ISIS, according to a list of terror groups cited in the report.
The new report comes as Republican lawmakers raise national security concerns about the Obama administration’s plan to admit tens of thousands of refugees to the U.S. from terrorist hot-spots. The political sensitivity is increased by claims from ISIS that it will use refugee paths to infiltrate the West.
Each admission was allowable under “the Secretary of Homeland Security’s exercises of discretionary authority,” the report said.
The beneficiaries either received “military-type training” from a terrorist organization while “under duress,” provided voluntary medical care to members of a terrorist organization, had existing immigration-related reasons for entry, or were affiliated with specific groups that the agency identified as eligible for exemptions.
According to USCIS, the exemption allows potentially ineligible aliens entry to the U.S. only after completing a “thorough background check” including a scrutiny of names and fingerprints against watch-lists of known terrorists and jihadis.
“In addition to rigorous background vetting, including checks coordinated across several government agencies, the Secretary of Homeland Security’s discretionary authority is only applied on a case-by-case basis after careful review of all factors and all security checks have cleared,” the report claims.
The report did not detail what background checks were accomplished in countries where records are poorly kept, officials can be bribed and governments may be hostile to the United States.
Most of the 1,519 were let into the country under the nation’s huge refugee program. Some won asylum, and 614 were granted lawful permanent residence because of other immigration-related claims. The report did not describe these immigration claims, but they could include family ties to immigrant citizens.
The new Americans were tied to a diversity of armed groups, including four groups from Burma, five groups from Ethiopia and Eritrea, two groups from El Salvador, four group from Iraq, plus groups from Kosovo, Indochina, and Cuba. Some of the groups have Muslim members, but nearly all groups are focused on ethnic fights, such as a long-running campaign by ethnic groups to secede from diverse Ethiopia. According to the report,
In FY2014, exemptions were processed under the Secretary’s exercise of authority for certain activities or affiliations with: certain Burmese groups (the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), the Chin National Front/Chin National Army (CNF/CNA); the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA), and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP)); the Cuban Alzados; certain Ethiopian and Eritrean groups (Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Eritrean Kunama (DMLEK), Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP), and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)); certain Salvadoran groups (Nationalist Republican Alliance (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista or ARENA; Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN)); Hmong-affiliated groups; certain Iraqi groups that opposed the Saddam Hussein regime (Iraqi National Congress (INC), the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)); The Iraqi Uprisings in 1991; and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).