The Obama administration has issued new exemptions to federal immigration law for asylum and refugee seekers that could allow individuals with ties to terrorists into the United States. The exemptions were published to the federal register on Wednesday and would narrow the ban on refugees and asylum seekers who had provided limited material support to terrorists.

The new exemptions were approved by both DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry.

DHS said the new exemptions won't pose a threat to national security.

"In addition to rigorous background vetting, including checks coordinated across several government agencies, these exemptions will only be applied on a case-by-case basis after careful review and all security checks have cleared," the official added. "This exemption process is vital to advancing the U.S. government's twin goal of protecting the world's most vulnerable persons while ensuring U.S. national security and public safety."

NumbersUSA's Director of Government Relations Rosemary Jenks called the exemptions a "recipe for tragedy."

"It seems to me that the intent of Section 212(a)(3) of the INA was to provide bright-line rules to prevent terrorists and their supporters from entering or remaining in the U.S.  The 'discretion' Secretary Johnson is claiming in this new memo significantly blurs those bright lines.  

"Perhaps worse, though, is that the 'discretion' is to be exercised by USCIS adjudicators who, according to their union president Ken Palinkas: 1) are under constant pressure to approve applications, regardless of any derogatory information they happen to find; and 2) do not have adequate training or access to information to thoroughly assess eligibility.  

"With this new policy, these USCIS adjudicators will be faced with an applicant they KNOW is somehow connected to terrorists or terrorist organizations, but they will not have the tools or training to determine if there is more information than just what the applicant claims, and they will be pressured by supervisors to approve the benefit so they don't slow down the process.  

For more information, see the Daily Caller.

Legal Immigration
National Security

Updated: Thu, Feb 6th 2014 @ 10:52am EST