“Across both those groups, the senators reported that at least 40 people initially admitted to the U.S. as refugees later were convicted or implicated in terror cases. “
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to lift a Hawaii federal appeals court ruling to block President Trump’s revised “travel ban” restricting the resettlement of refugees from six terrorism hot spots and safe havens, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days and froze aspiring refugees for 120 days to give the new administration more time to put in place tougher vetting procedures in an effort to prevent future terrorist attacks.
Hawaii is suing the Trump administration claiming the bans are racist or discriminatory as those countries affected are majority-Muslim. Others against the temporary freeze on refugees claim it is inhumane given the war in Syria and the rampant violence elsewhere on that list. A prevailing counterargument to this claim is that the government infrastructure in those nations range from hostile to incapable to nonexistent altogether when it comes to assisting in the vetting process and providing authentic, verifiable identifications and paperwork for these individuals hoping to come to the U.S.
According to a report by The Hill, Justice Anthony Kennedy the day before the ruling issued a temporary stay pending a response from the state of Hawaii. After that deadline of noon Tuesday passed, the Supreme Court blocked Hawaii’s decision indefinitely. Though it takes the support of five justices to grant a “stay” application, it is unclear how many justices sided with the Trump administration on this issue.
In 9th Circuit court action last week, acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall decided against fighting “close-family aspect of the district court’s modified injunction” which blocked the government from denying entry to individuals with a “bona fide” relationship to a person already in the U.S., including grandparents, aunts, uncles and other extended family. Per a Reuters report, had it remained in place, the Justice Department says up to 24,000 additional refugees would have been eligible to enter the U.S.
In addition to the upheld, at least for now, refugee restrictions, the Trump administration has also lowered the refugee cap to 50,000 for 2016 despite the Obama administration goal put in place for admitting 110,000 this year. That number may go even lower with the New York Times reporting this number could be cut down to 15,000 – just over a 10th of Barack Obama’s highest refugee admissions goals. The Department of Homeland Security proposes a less drastic cut to 40,000 which may be due to national security concerns as much as resource scarcity (time, personnel, money, legal) between cases of resettling refugees and illegal immigrants.
There are even claims contrary to the facts that no one from these countries affected have been arrested for Islamic terrorist plots against the United States.
Since President Reagan signed the Refugee Act of 1980 37 years ago, the refugee cap has never been lower than 67,000 admitted in 1987 except for the fewer than 27,000 admitted in 2002 following the terrorist attacks in 2001 (Pew). New York Magazine cites an International Rescue Committee report last month advocating for admitting at least 75,000 refugees per year as “a critical signal to the world that the United States remains a safe haven for those fleeing persecution, terror and ideologies antithetical to American democratic values.” And that, “Anything less would be to turn our backs on the United States’ humanitarian tradition and global leadership.”
Others of this mindset, claim a lack of precedence in terror attacks on the United States by refugees from these countries. There are even claims contrary to the facts that no one from these countries affected have been arrested for Islamic terrorist plots against the United States.
According to an AP report from January of this year, in October 2016, an Iraqi refugee living in Texas plead guilty to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State as well as wanting to blow himself up in an act of martyrdom. In November 2016, a Somali refugee injured 11 in a car-and-knife attack at Ohio State University before being arrested. Previously two men from Iraq were arrested in Kentucky in 2011 for plotting to send money and weapons to al-Qaida. Congressional data however shows far more.
For the period September 2001 through 2014, data shows the U.S. successfully prosecuted 580 individuals for terrorism and terror-related cases. Further, since early 2014, at least 131 individuals were identified as being implicated in terror.
Across both those groups, the senators reported that at least 40 people initially admitted to the U.S. as refugees later were convicted or implicated in terror cases.
Among the 580 convicted, they said, at least 380 were foreign-born. The top countries of origin were Pakistan, Lebanon and Somalia, as well as the Palestinian territories.
Other files show “a sharp spike in cases in 2015, largely stemming from the arrest of suspects claiming allegiance to the Islamic State” with a concentration across California, Texas, New York and Minnesota. A Pew report reveals California, New York and Texas together resettled a quarter of all refugees admitted in 2016.
Another popular argument against the “travel ban,” specifically with these nations is the relatively low numbers of arrests compared to admissions, or of terror attacks or plots. This is very much hinging on a lack of precedence to make the case that there is “no there there.” Given the rise in refugee – or foreign-national related terrorist attacks in Europe – from France, Germany, Great Britain, and even in the U.S., caution should be urged against this fallacy.
The evolving trend toward “lone wolf” terrorism also hurts the short-sighted small numbers arguments that an attack like 9/11 requires 19 or so organized persons from the “right” country to pose a serious – or high casualty – threat. This assumes the terrorist threat does not evolve or adapt between groups, persons or places or across time.
Underscoring that notion, the CIA in 2016 said the Islamic State’s official strategy was to hide its operatives among refugees entering Europe from the Middle East and North Africa. Then there’s the documented inspirational susceptibility of refugees and other immigrants (particularly second generation) to radical Islam, a phenomenon not yet sorted out to hard science but which is believed to be the product of disillusionment with America as well as a sense of otherness, something that could be reinforced by societies more likely to be perceived as hostile as the refugee or immigration crisis (or terrorist threat) continues. Ultimately, it comes down to a delicate balance of humanitarian and national security concerns both now and years from now.
President Trump has until October 1 to set a refugee ceiling for the new federal calendar year. SCOTUS will hear arguments in two consolidated cases challenging the Trump travel ban on Oct. 10, after that deadline has passed.