Islamic terrorists—including two al Qaeda affiliates indicted last year in Kentucky—have entered the United States legally through a resettlement program that helps tens of thousands of “the world’s most vulnerable refugees” start a new life in America each year.
Known as the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), it’s a joint venture between the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Homeland Security agency that oversees the nation’s lawful immigration. The two agencies are responsible for deciding which refugees are granted USRAP resettlement consideration. USCIS is hands on and conducts individual, in-person interviews with applicants to determine if they meet the refugee criteria.
Most of the refugee referrals are made by the notoriously corrupt United Nations, which has published an extensive handbook on the subject. In a nutshell here is the criteria; a refugee must have a well-founded fear of persecution based on at least one of the following—religion, political opinion, race or nationality. This means there is a continued need for protection and candidates should be granted permanent residence status with access to rights similar to those enjoyed by nationals, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) guide.
In fiscal year 2011 Uncle Sam generously offered 56,424 persecuted foreigners refuge and in fiscal year 2012 the number increased to 58,236, according Barbara Strack, the Refugee Affairs Division Chief at USCIS. This week Strack testified at a congressional hearing, “Terrorist Exploitation of Refugee Programs,” that addressed the serious security vulnerabilities in her division. She told the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “has been working closely with interagency partners to improve, refine, and streamline the security vetting regime for refugee applicants and for other immigration categories.”
Last May two Iraqi nationals who were given refugee status under USRAP were arrested and federally indicted for plotting to send weapons and money to al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) as well as conspiracy to kill U.S. national abroad. The men, Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, lived in Kentucky and have pleaded guilty to the charges, which are outlined in this FBI document. They are scheduled to be sentenced early next year.