Hundreds of illegal immigrants from terror hotspots are using what critics describe as loopholes in U.S. immigration policy to try to remain in the country indefinitely, according to data obtained by Congress.
Taking a page from the playbook used by Central American women and children to gain U.S. entry, hundreds of immigrants from Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan, Iran and Syria caught entering the U.S. last year made asylum claims to avoid deportation – and, in doing so, asserted they had a “credible fear of persecution.”
This phrase is important because it allows them to be released and work in the U.S. Prior to 2009, the U.S. held in custody many asylum seekers entering the U.S. illegally until their cases were resolved in court -- but an Obama administration policy change allowed those fearing persecution to be released.
The finding that asylum seekers from turbulent Middle Eastern and African countries are now using this phrase to gain entry and remain on U.S. soil has raised security concerns on Capitol Hill.
"These numbers illustrate vulnerabilities throughout our immigration system," Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., said Tuesday. "Dangerous criminals and potential terrorists are gaming the system without consequence. The Obama administration is compromising our national security and safety for its political agenda."