One in four of the more than 250 Americans who have attempted to join ISIS hail from Minnesota. Many are former refugees, according to CBS News.
A CBS News report reveals that refugees in Minneapolis have become a source for Islamic extremist recruitment. Earlier this month the outlet highlighted the Cedar Riverside community, which boasts the largest Somali population in the U.S. as one such breeding ground.
“Many came as refugees in the 1990s. The unemployment rate here is 21 percent, three times the state average. And an alarming number of young Somali men from this neighborhood have left to join extremist groups. Since 2007, two dozen have joined AL-Shabab in Somalia,” CBS News reporter Jamie Yuccas wrote.
Earlier this year the community created a task force, according to CBS News, and has placed Somali police officers in the area to cultivate relationships the the community in an effort to confront the extremist recruiting effort.
As the Obama administration continues to pursue its goal of resettling thousands of Middle Eastern refugees from terrorist hotspots like Syria in the U.S., Republican lawmakers have raised concerns about not just the possibility of terrorists infiltrating the refugee process and the high cost of the program but also the potential for refugees to radicalize post-admission.
“[A]s [President Obama’s] officials concluded, there is no way to prevent refugees from radicalizing after their entrance to the U.S – just as has happened with Somali refugees,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said on the Senate floor earlier this month. “It is an unpleasant but unavoidable fact that bringing in a large unassimilated flow of migrants from the Muslim world creates the conditions possible for radicalization and extremism to take hold. The FBI director tells us there are now active ISIS investigations in all 50 U.S. states.”
Last week Sessions’ office released 12 examples of refugees publicly implicated in terrorism in this year. In recent months the Alabama lawmaker and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have been pressing the Obama administration for information about the immigration histories of more than 70 individuals.
“In just the last year, refugees and other migrants admitted to the U.S. from Bosnia, Somalia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ghana, Kuwait and Bangladesh have been implicated in terrorist activity,” Sessions and Cruz said in a joint statement earlier this month.
The House passed legislation aimed at straightening the refugee vetting process before the Thanksgiving recess, however many House Republicans are also pushing to defund the process until certain conditions are met. Additionally, Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to mark up the Expatriate Terrorist Act introduced by Cruz and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), which would strip U.S. citizenship from Americans who join terrorist groups.