The United States signed the 1967 U.N. refugee protocol relating to our obligation to provide sanctuary for defined refugees. NumbersUSA has always supported this country taking our fair share of the world’s internationally recognized special-needs refugees.
In many years, the United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, has been taking in more than half of the "special-needs refugees" identified by international bodies and resettled in third-party countries.
Unfortunately, American generosity in this area has long been abused. Well-intentioned programs have been damaged by fraud and mismanagement, with U.S. government officials and the "refugees" themselves sharing the blame.
ABC News reported that several dozen suspected terrorist bombmakers -- some of whom may have targeted American troops -- were apparently allowed to move to the United States by claiming to be war refugees. FBI agents reportedly found the fingerprints of some of the purported refugees on the remnants of roadside bombs recovered in Iraq.
At a February 2014 hearing, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security released a document produced by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services entitled "Asylum Benefit Fraud and Compliance Report". It found that just 30% of asylum cases surveyed were fraud-free -- in other words, 70% bore some indication of fraud.
At the same hearing, the Judiciary Committee released a report which showed that the Obama Administration has been releasing asylum seekers into the United States while their claims are pending -- a violation of U.S. law, which requires that they be held in custody. The report showed that in many cases, authorities lose track of these applicants. Research by the Center for Immigration Studies has shown that many of these people fail to show up for their hearings.
These problems in the U.S. refugee admissions systems have been festering for many years.
Two decades ago, the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform headed by former Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-Texas) heard testimony from refugee experts who noted that the United States takes in many people from refugee camps who still have a reasonable opportunity to return to their home countries. Refugee experts note that when the United States accepts refugees who are capable of returning home, it encourages millions more to balk at going back in the hope that if they hold out long enough, they too will be allowed to enter and remain in the United States.
Refugees, once given permission to live here, may bring or send for family members. But large numbers of refugees engage in fraud through this process. Because of the rampant nature of this fraud, the State Department in October 2008 suspended all family reunification applications (P-3 Visas) from U.S.-based refugees. The State Department reported that DNA matches were found in fewer than 20 percent of all cases tested -- suggesting that the fraud rate may be close to 80 percent.
The suggestion of an 80 percent fraud rate is deeply troubling. Refugee advocates have challenged relying solely on DNA testing to validate the relationship between refugees and their family members, claiming that kinship in these communities goes well beyond blood ties.
But if blood ties cannot be verified, how do U.S. immigration officials know that people claiming to be "family" are not simply attempting to pull off a scam?
In February congressional testimony, Temple University Law professor Jan Ting -- formerly a senior official handling refugee issues at the Justice Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service -- emphasized that the fraud problem shows no signs of abating.
He pointed to a New Yorker article detailing how illegal immigrants educate themselves on how to construct bogus stories making them sound like victims of persecution. The article features an African asylum claimant falsely claiming to have been raped. To bolster her story, "she attends group therapy sessions for rape victims at a public hospital and receives taxpayer-funded medications for her supposed depression, which she throws away," Ting observed.