House Committee Chairmen Request Information on Aliens in U.S. with Possible Terrorist Connections

Published: May 21, 2015

WASHINGTON — United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently disclosed that aliens with terrorist connections may be attempting to take advantage of the United States’ asylum system. Addressing those concerns, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Oversight National Security Subcommittee Chairman Ron DeSantis (R-FL), and House Judiciary Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) sent the following letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson requesting key documents and information about the recent USCIS disclosure. 

“According to documents and information that USCIS provided to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the terrorism bar to asylum eligibility may be applicable to 299 aliens who were found to have a ‘credible fear’ of persecution in the first four months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, and to 339 aliens who were found to have a ‘credible fear’ in FY 2014.”

 

The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC  20528Dear Mr. Secretary:The status of the United States as a haven for those fleeing persecution is a fundamental element of our identity as a nation.  Ten years ago, however, the Conference Report for the REAL ID Act described how aliens who posed a danger to national security exploited our country’s asylum laws to avoid being removed.[1]  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) recent disclosure regarding the numbers of aliens found to have a “credible fear” in cases where the terrorism bar to asylum eligibility may have applied raised the concern that hundreds of known and suspected aliens with terrorist connections may be attempting to take advantage of our country’s asylum system.According to documents and information that USCIS provided to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the terrorism bar to asylum eligibility[2] may be applicable to 299 aliens who were found to have a “credible fear”[3] of persecution in the first four months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, and to 339 aliens who were found to have a “credible fear” in FY 2014.In order to assess our concern, we request that you provide the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on the Judiciary with the following documents and information as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on June 3, 2015:
  1. 1. A copy of the alien file (A-file) for each alien who was found to have a credible fear in FY 2014 and 2015 (through May 1, 2015) who USCIS also found the terrorism bar to asylum eligibility may apply.
  2. 2. For each individual covered by the above request, identify whether the alien has been released, and for each alien who has been released, whether the release decision was made by officers of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or by an Immigration Judge (IJ) or the Board of Immigration Appeals.  For any alien who has been released by an order of an IJ, please state whether DHS filed a stay and/or an appeal of that decision.
  3. 3. The number of cases nationwide where the asylum officer found a potential INA 208(b)(2)(A)(v) bar to asylum eligibility in a reasonable fear case.  For each individual covered by this request, please provide a copy of the alien’s A-file.

Please also make arrangements to brief staff of both Committees on this matter no later than June 5, 2015.  The restrictions against the disclosure of asylum-related material set forth in 8 C.F.R. §§ 208.6 and 1208.6 do not bar disclosure of this information to Congress.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal investigative committee in the House of Representatives.  Pursuant to House Rule X, the Committee has authority to investigate “any matter” at “any time.”  The Committee on the Judiciary has jurisdiction over immigration policy and non-border enforcement pursuant to that rule.

Sincerely,

Jason Chaffetz
Chairman
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Bob Goodlatte
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
Ron DeSantis
Chairman
Subcommittee on National Security
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Trey Gowdy
Chairman
Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security
Committee on the Judiciary