Letter: I have seen first-hand the abuse and fraud in the U.S. refugee program
February 2, 2017
I fully support President Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily halts admissions from the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and bans travel from nationals of countries that potentially pose a security risk to the United States; however, I don’t think the action goes far enough. Further, I believe there are many people throughout the country who feel the same way.
As a recently retired 25-year veteran of the U.S. Department of State who served almost eight years as a refugee coordinator throughout the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Cuba, I have seen first-hand the abuses and fraud that permeate the refugee program and know about the entrenched interests that fight every effort to implement much-needed reform. Despite claims of enhanced vetting, the reality is that it is virtually impossible to vet an individual who has no type of official record, particularly in countries compromised by terrorism. U.S. immigration officials simply rely on the person’s often rehearsed and fabricated “testimony.” I have personally seen this on hundreds of occasions.
As a refugee coordinator, I saw the exploitations, inconsistencies and security lapses in the program, and I advocated strongly for change. Nonetheless, during the past decade and specifically under the Obama administration, the Refugee Admissions Program continued to expand blindly, seemingly without concern for security or whether it served the best interests of its own citizens. For instance, the legally questionable resettlement of refugees from Malta to the United States grew substantially, despite the fact that as a European country with a functioning asylum system, “refugees” should have remained there under the internationally accepted concept of “the country of first asylum.” Similarly, the “special” in-country refugee programs in Cuba and Russia continue, although they are laden with fraud and far too often simply admit economic migrants rather than actual refugees.
As an insider who understands its operations, politics and weaknesses, I believe the refugee program must change dramatically and the courts must allow the president to fully implement the order.
From FBI to INS to regular office employees to border control agents, the word is that we need to have not only a pause but a stricter vetting procedure. Apparently just like other government agencies over the last eight years at least, fraud and corruption are rampant. If for no other reason than beginning the task of cleaning up the system, a 90 ban is essential to get some control over who enters and exits our borders and best methods to vet are needed to be discussed Before we allow another would-be terrorist entry.
According to a year-end 2015 DHS summary report released January 2016, DHS suspected In-Country Overstays were 482,781 individuals. Multiply that number times eight years and the total is staggering. DHS in the report makes the case that this is only about one percent of all legal entries. That is fine but if even one of those people moves on to become radicalized or moves into the welfare system then we are in worse shape.
In addition, border agents just caught two Middle Eastern so-called illegal immigrants crossing our southern border. This leads me to believe far more have crossed. Indeed, tunnels in the San Diego and other border areas have found prayer mats, Korans, and other indications that this has been happening.
The President has the right and obligation to secure our borders and continue to protect citizens. So hopefully even a left leaning judge who at least can read the constitution can place unbiased, non-partisan decisions above the liberals screeching cries in a sane world.