The Obama administration has eased the rules governing asylum-seekers, refugees and others applying to enter the U.S. who gave “limited” support to terrorists or terrorist groups, AP reported.
This is President Obama’s first executive directive on immigration since his pledge during his State of the Union address last month to circumvent Congress on immigration and other legislation.
According to the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, people who are suspected of providing “limited material support” to terrorists or terrorist groups are no longer automatically barred from entering the United States.
The Homeland Security Department said in a statement that the rule change, announced last week without Congressional approval, gives the government more discretion but will not expose the country to a flood of terrorists and their sympathizers. People seeking refugee status, asylum and visas will still be checked to make sure they don’t pose a threat to national security, the department stated.
Except, of course, for a minor detail, namely that the definition of who is a terrorist sympathizer has been altered. The change allows U.S. officials to take into consideration whether the “limited” support to known terrorists was merely part of “routine commercial transactions or routine social transactions.” This could, potentially, include the taxi driver who takes a suicide bomber to his appointed place of attack, or the arms dealer who sold weapons and ammunition to known terrorists.
In the past, the only exemptions were given to medical doctors who provided care to injured terrorists.
“Refugee applicants are subject to more security checks than any other category of traveler to the United States,” Homeland Security spokesman Peter Boogaard said. “Nothing in these exemptions changes the rigorous, multi-layered security screening we do.”
But the activities they check for have been changed. What’s the potential damage from the Administration’s move? In late 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that an estimated 4,400 cases were on hold while the government was reviewing whether they should be allowed in despite their record of “limited” terrorist support. Potentially, all these people could be let in now.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called the change naive given today’s global terrorist threats. “President Obama should be protecting U.S. citizens rather than taking a chance on those who are aiding and abetting terrorist activity and putting Americans at greater risk,” he said.