The unlawful presence of a Moroccan national who was allegedly planning to bomb two buildings in the U.S. is an example of the lawlessness of the nation’s immigration system, according to Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions.
El Mehdi Semlali Fathi was arrested Monday for lying to immigration officials in order to stay in the U.S. as a refugee. Federal officials say he was planning to bomb two buildings in Connecticut.
Sessions said Wednesday that the events surrounding the arrest “underscore the urgent need to restore lawfulness and integrity to our immigration system.”
“[I]t would appear from initial news reports that the terror suspect was here on a student visa and was illegally present in the country beginning in 2009 when that visa was revoked,” Sessions said. “It also appears he had multiple run-ins with the law and yet was allowed to remain unlawfully in the country. It would further appear he made blatantly fraudulent claims in order to successfully obtain relief from deportation in 2013.”
Indeed, Sessions noted, the arrest comes shortly after a 2009 internal audit found that 70 percent of asylum applications had warning signs of fraud — and after the head of the union representing immigration officers warned last year that they are “pressured to rubber stamp applications.” (RELATED: Report: Obama administration released 68,000 convicted criminal aliens last year)
Sessions also pointed to reports that have shown that interior removals have declined 40 percent since 2009 and many criminal aliens are simply being arrested and released back into the country.
“The U.S. has the most generous immigration policy in the world: We admit approximately one million permanent immigrants each year, plus 500,000 student visas, 700,000 guest workers, and thousands more refugees and asylees,” he said. “But we seem to have forgotten that our immigration system is supposed to serve the American people, and the national interest. No one has the right to demand entrance to the U.S., or to remain unlawfully present in the country. Cracking down on asylum fraud would be an important step in the right direction.”