Congress To DHS on Syrian Refugees: Obama Ignoring His Own National Security Experts About Vetting Terrorists

By Matthew Hrozencik | September 26, 2016 | 4:34pm EDT

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), 

chairman of the House Oversight and

Government Reform Committee. (AP) 

( – The Obama administration’s decision to allow more refugees, particularly from Syria, into the United States in 2017 shows that the president is ignoring warnings from his own national security officials that terrorists cannot be adequately screened out and is “creating national security risks,” said House Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)

Chaffetz chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Goodlatte chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

In a Sept. 22 letter to Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson, the Republican chairman said, “The President's decision to increase overall refugee resettlement -- and specifically that of Syrian refugees -- ignores warnings from his own national security officials that Syrians cannot be adequately vetted to ensure terrorists are not admitted. Revelations about fraud, security gaps, and lack of oversight have demonstrated that the program is creating national security risks.”

On Sept. 13,  Secretary of State John Kerry had announced that the Obama Administration would set the refugee ceiling for 2017 at 110,000 from the current 85,000.  

Cheaffetz and Goodlatee wrote the Sep. 22nd letter after obtaining an internal document from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that, they state,  “confirms a key finding from the Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, that terrorists will utilize benefit fraud (to include asylum and refugee fraud) to legitimize their stay in the United States." 

The actual document reads: “The Immigration System is a constant target for exploitation by individuals who seek to enter the United States and who are otherwise ineligible for entry based on security grounds. The Refugee Program is one such avenue in which ineligible aliens seek to enter by fraud.”

“ICE’s Refugee Program is particularly vulnerable to fraud due to loose evidentiary requirements, where at times, the testimony of an applicant alone is sufficient for approval,” reads the document. “As a result, a range of bad actors, who use manufactured histories, biographies, and other false statements, as well as produce and submit fictitious supporting documentation, have exploited this program.”

One such example listed in the report involves a Somali-American, who committed a suicide bombing in Somalia in 2008, after being admitted to the United States. This case marked the first known time a U.S. citizen committed a suicide bombing.  

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh

Johnson.  (AP) 

The letter by Chaffetz and Goodlatee also asks whether Secretary of State John Kerry was made aware of the ICE report, if the information from ICE was considered when the Obama administration decided to increase the refugee ceiling by 35,000, what plans the DHS has to address the challenges listed, and what solutions have been implemented.

Citing the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s power to investigate “any matter” at “any time,”  Chaffetz and Goodlatte have given Secretary Johnson until 5:00pm on October 4, 2016 to respond.

The full press release and letter can be read here.  

MRC Store