The Obama administration granted asylum to more than 1,500 foreigners with ties to terrorist organizations last year because they were deemed to have provided support to the groups “while under duress.”
The figures are contained in an annual report that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sent to Congress this month. The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained the report and published it online Tuesday.
During fiscal year 2014, USCIS applied exemptions to 1,519 foreigners with ties to terrorist organizations who applied for discretionary relief. Of that total, 806 of the foreigners granted discretionary relief were for refugee applicants while another 614 were applicants for lawful permanent resident status.
Of the 1,519 with terrorist associations, 627 provided material support, “while under duress,” to undesignated terrorist groups. Another 189 provided material support, “while under duress,” to designated terrorist groups.
Designated terrorist groups are the most dangerous. They are classified as Tier I and Tier II organizations and include groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Nine foreigners granted relief received military-type training, “while under duress,” from terrorist groups; 28 provided voluntary medical care to members of terrorist groups; 37 were qualified aliens who had existing immigration benefits who had “provided material support to, solicited funds for, solicited individuals for membership in or received military-type training from Tier III terrorist organizations.
USCIS asserts that applicants are thoroughly vetted and pose no terrorist threat to the U.S. Applicants’ names and fingerprints are compared against terrorist watch lists. Following that process, individual applicants are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Department of Homeland Security.
Such applicants would have been rejected prior to Feb. 2014, according to Judicial Watch. That’s when the Obama administration announced that DHS could exercise discretion whether to grant asylum to aliens “who provided limited material support.”
“Before the Obama administration tweaked a federal law last year, these foreign nationals would have been banned from the country for supporting terrorist causes,” Judicial Watch asserts.
“The bottom line is that the U.S. government is allowing them all to stay in the country with rights and benefits afforded to legal residents despite their terrorist connections and associations,” the watchdog argues.