The Obama administration did not tell Congress, until recently, that Syrian Refugees were arriving in Louisiana. According to a House Homeland Security Committee aide, Congress did not know about 13 Syrian refugees who arrived in New Orleans over the past two fiscal years until it was reported by a local news outlet 10 days ago.
This eliciting a warning from from the Committee about the lack of current intelligence regarding the refugees who are in the U.S. and those who will arrive in the future.
The Obama administration is looking to increase the number of Syrian refugees who may be admitted into the U.S. as well as speed up the process. The administration plans to do this, Reuters reports, by opening new screening outposts in Iraq and Lebanon. As of now, the administration promised to accept as many as 100,000 refugees each year by the end of 2017. The present annual cap is at 70,000.
“While all refugees are vetted against all known intelligence community holdings, the Committee is concerned that the lack of current, reliable intelligence on the ground in Syria makes it very difficult to determine with any certainty who is entering the United States. We could very well be accepting individuals connected to ISIS, al-Nusra, al-Qaeda or any one of the terror groups currently operating in Syria,” a committee aide told the Daily Caller in an e-mail.
Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, an outspoken critic of the administration’s move to admit Syrian refugees into the United States held a committee hearing in June investigating Syrian refugee admissions.
It is unclear, however, if the Homeland Security Committee is confident that the Obama administration is keeping committee members up to date on each refugee that is admitted into the U.S.
Supporters of admitting refugees into the U.S. include Catholic organizations that supply resources and information for refugees who arrive in the United States.
“We had served two families, we’re expecting one more soon, and we do not know how many more, but we expect more,” Martin Gutierrez of Catholic Charities, which is part of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, told WVUE.
Vetting the refugees coming into the United States is nearly non-existent the FBI told Congress this summer.
“We don’t have it under control,” Mr. Michael Steinback, Assistant Director for the FBI told the House Homeland Security Committee in June. “Absolutely, we’re doing the best we can. If I were to say that we had it under control, then I would say I know of every single individual traveling. I don’t. And I don’t know every person there and I don’t know everyone coming back. So it’s not even close to being under control.”
Former New Orleans FBI chief and anti-terrorism expert Jim Bernazzani told WVUE, “If I was in charge of ISIL, logistically I’d take advantage of this situation and put my people in, into the United States,” Bernazzani said. “Now with that said, the FBI is on top of this big time with our Joint Terrorism Task Force and we have what’s called a Terrorist Screening Center that these individuals will be run through.”