Senator Jeff Sessions released this statement this morning. It was prompted by the Chattanooga shootings, but goes far beyond that topic. The statement is rather lengthy, but I am going to reproduce it in full because it is so good and so important. The original includes many links that substantiate Sessions’s points. Before turning the floor over to Senator Sessions, I will only add that the two most important issues in next year’s presidential campaign are immigration and terrorism, and to a considerable extent, they are the same issue.
Four heroes, who nobly served this country and her people, lost their lives in a terrorist attack. We honor their service, mourn their loss, and pray for their families. They are the very finest Americans this nation has to offer, and the heart of our whole nation grieves for their loss.
There will be much discussion in the coming days about actions which should be taken to better protect the lives of our military personnel, and all Americans, in this age of terrorism. Many different agencies, committees, and experts will be involved. On the Immigration Subcommittee, our mandate is to look at the issues experts have been raising since 9/11 about how our immigration system is vulnerable to terrorism and those seeking to foster radicalization.
More details will need to be collected in coming days, but from what we know so far the terrorist in question appears to be an Islamist radical who immigrated to the United States from Kuwait, and who reportedly later applied for and received U.S. citizenship.
The President of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Council—which represents 12,000 United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Officers—has repeatedly alerted the deaf ears of Congress about this danger. In a recent statement, Palinkas declared:
It is essential to warn the public about the threat that ISIS will exploit our loose and lax visa policies to gain entry to the United States… There is no doubt that there are already many individuals in the United States, on visas—expired or active—who are being targeted for radicalization or who already subscribe to radicalized views… Many millions come legally to the U.S. through our wide open immigration policy every year—whether as temporary visitors, lifetime immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, foreign students, or recipients of our ‘visa waiver program’… Our government cannot effectively track these foreign visitors and immigrants… Applications for entry are rubber-stamped… We’ve become the visa clearinghouse for the world.
A 2005 Center for Immigration Studies highlighted 21 terrorists who immigrated to the United States and later applied for citizenship—20 of those citizenship applications were approved. Since just 2013, news reports have revealed a number of such individuals who were invited into the United States as part of our annual admission of one million new permanent residents, half a million foreign students, 70,000 asylees and refugees, 700,000 foreign workers, and 200,000 relatives of foreign workers. These individuals below did not hop a border fence or a dig a tunnel: they, like the 9/11 hijackers, applied for entry and were approved:
* The Boston Bombers were invited in as refugees. The younger brother applied for citizenship and was naturalized on September 11th, 2012. The older brother had a pending application for citizenship.
* A Moroccan national who came to the U.S. on a student visa was arrested for plotting to blow up a university and a federal court house.
* 7 Somali-Americans in Minnesota have recently been charged with trying to join ISIS. The Washington Times reported that “the effort [to resettle large groups of Somali refugees in Minnesota] is having the unintended consequence of creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is both stressing the state’s safety net and creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamist terror groups.”
* An Uzbek refugee living in Idaho was arrested and charged with providing support to a terrorist organization, in the form of teaching terror recruits how to build bombs.
* An American citizen whose family is from Syria was sentenced for plotting to support ISIS and rob a gun store to kill members of the American military.
* An immigrant from Syria, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was accused by federal prosecutors of planning to “go to a military base in Texas and kill three or four American soldiers execution style.”
* A college student who immigrated from Somalia, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, attempted to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon.
* An immigrant from Afghanistan, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, and a legal permanent resident from the Philippines, were convicted for “join Al Qaeda and the Taliban in order to kill Americans.”
* An Iraqi immigrant, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was arrested for lying to federal agents about pledging allegiance to ISIS and his travels to Syria.
* Two immigrants from Pakistan, who later applied for and received U.S citizenship, were sentenced to decades-long prison sentences for plotting to detonate a bomb in New York City.
* An immigrant from Yemen, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was arrested for trying to join ISIS. He was also charged with attempting to illegally buy firearms to try to shoot American military personnel.
Our first national imperative is to improve USCIS screening of all applications and to redirect agency resources away from political missions and toward national security.
Further, the events described above do not occur in isolation, but are often part of broader networks, groups, and pockets of radicalization made possible by unwise immigration policy. It is time to affirm some fundamental but forgotten principles that will enhance not only our security but also our social and economic well-being:
* We are under no obligation to admit anyone to the United States.
* The selection of new immigrants to the United States should be based on what’s in the best interests of the people already living inside the United States.
* Immigrants selected for admission should be expected to be financially self-sufficient and chosen because they are likely to succeed, thrive, and flourish in the United States.
* Assimilation is the best policy to ensure both the success of our country and the success of those who arrive in our country. We do both the country and those seeking to enter our country a disservice by failing to promote our language, our laws, and our political customs.
* We should not admit people in larger numbers than we can reasonably expect to vet, assimilate, and absorb into our schools, communities, and labor markets. It is not compassionate but uncaring to bring in so many people that there are not enough jobs for them or the people already here. As Coolidge said: “We want to keep wages and living conditions good for everyone who is now here or who may come here.”
Over the last four decades, immigration levels have quadrupled. The Census Bureau projects that we will add another 14 million immigrants over the next decade. It is not mainstream, but extreme, to continue surging immigration beyond all historical precedent. It is time for moderation to prevail, and for us to focus on improving the jobs, wages, and security of the 300 million people already living inside our borders.