A Texas congressman who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee is calling on President Obama to abandon his plan to resettle thousands of Syrians displaced by that country’s civil war, saying the plan is “very dangerous” for America’s security.
The problem is that ISIS has already said it will infiltrate the ranks of the refugees being sent by the United Nations to various Western countries, said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.
McCaul wrote a letter to President Obama Thursday expressing concerns over the administration’s announced plans to resettle some 2,000 Syrian refugees in the United States this year. Another 10,000 to 11,000 are in the U.N. pipeline destined for America.
“Terrorists have made known their plans to attempt to exploit
refugee programs to sneak terrorists into the West and the U.S. homeland,” read a statement released by McCaul’s committee Monday. “Chairman McCaul’s letter points out the potential national security threat this poses to the United States.”
In fact, it is already happening.
The police security service in Norway, which recently accepted 1,000 Syrian refugees from the U.N., found that between five and 10 had ties to Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS and the al-Nusra Front, a Norwegian newspaper reported.
The U.N. and the nine private resettlement agencies that contract with the U.S. government have been lobbying for the U.S. to up the ante and take in at least 65,000 Syrians by the end of Obama’s term in 2016. They have criticized the U.S. for not acting quicker to absorb greater numbers of Syrians displaced by four years of civil war.
Countering the ‘Jihad Caucus’ in Senate
Also, 14 Democratic senators led by Richard Durbin of Illinois, Diane Feinstein of California and Al Franken of Minnesota wrote a letter last month asking Obama to “dramatically increase” the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the U.S., sticking with the 65,000 number recommended by the resettlement lobby. This act earned the 14 Democrats the title of “Jihad Caucus” by Refugee Resettlement Watch blogger Ann Corcoran.
But McCaul’s Homeland Security Committee has been pushing for more caution, not less. His latest letter to Obama states:
“Simply put, we cannot screen against derogatory information we do not have. My committee and I have been sounding the alarm for months. I am deeply disappointed that your Administration failed to fully respond in a timely manner to our concrete requests on this important national security issue, including our February 19, 2015, letter from the Committee. …”
“Our outstanding questions have taken on greater urgency after ISIS demonstrated its ability to infiltrate and seize refugee camps in Syria earlier last month. I respectfully request that your Administration provide Members of the Committee of Homeland Security with a classified interagency briefing on these issues and a set of written responses from the Department of State and the FBI to the initial questions in February no later than July 7, 2015.”
New congressional hearing called for June 24
McCaul has scheduled a second hearing on the Syrian refugee program for June 24.
He held the first hearing on Feb. 11. In that initial hearing, Michael Steinbach, deputy director of the FBI’s counter-terrorism unit, said it was impossible to screen the Syrian refugees for ties to terrorism given that Syria is a “failed state” and the U.S. has no access to reliable law
Yet, the U.S. State Department under Obama and Kerry has continued to repeat the mantra that refugees are the “most rigorously scrutinized” of all immigrants and that the worries are not justified.
It comes down to which arm of the government Americans should believe – the State Department and Kerry or the FBI and Steinbach.
McCaul sides with Steinbach. He said in his first letter to Obama in February that he was concerned the Syrian refugee program would become a “jihadist pipeline” into the United States.
Once the refugees are screened, the State Department pays agencies to resettle them in more than 190 cities and towns across America. Among the contractors are Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the International Rescue Committee, Church World Services, Episcopal Migration Ministries and World Relief.
Written by Leo Hohmann
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