WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, commented on the Administration’s latest executive immigration decree which loosens immigration screening standards for those who may pose a threat to national security:
Kenneth Palinkas, who represents our nation’s immigration officers at USCIS, recently charged that our immigration processing system has become a ‘visa clearinghouse for the world.’ Now, a newly disclosed internal audit of immigration procedures reveals that at least 70% of asylum applications contained warning signs of fraud. We also know that asylum-seekers at the southwest border have exploited a glaring enforcement loophole by simply asserting they face a ‘credible fear’ in their home countries. The frequent result is that those making the assertion, instead of being promptly removed or detained, are instead released into the U.S. pending a determination on their claims that may occur years into the future, and do not show up for the hearings.
In light of these and other facts, it is thus deeply alarming that the Obama Administration would move unilaterally to relax admissions standards for asylum-seekers and potentially numerous other applicants for admission who have possible connections to insurgent or terrorist groups. This includes terror groups not yet designated: Al Qaeda was not designated by the Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization until 1999—long after the first attack on the World Trade Center. The 2011 case of suspected terror operatives from Iraq being admitted to the U.S. only further underscores that our immigration system lacks the safeguards necessary to protect our country. We need to tighten security standards for asylum, not relax them even further.
DHS’ claim that they have authority to effectively eliminate whole swaths of the INA leaves one incredulous. It is one thing to approve a waiver in a particular case with uniquely compelling circumstances; it is entirely another thing to declare a plain legal requirement is null and void. What is the point of Congress passing a law if the Administration abuses its ‘discretion’ to say that law simply no longer applies? This is yet one more instance of the Administration rewriting U.S. code through executive decree.
Not only is this a national security issue, but a financial issue: those granted admission gain access to federal welfare programs funded by U.S. taxpayers. It seems the Obama Administration has forgotten that our immigration laws are meant to protect the interests of Americans. This action endangers our national security and defies duly-enacted law. This and other administrative actions bypassing Congress and plain law must end.