(NaturalNews) Many Americans concerned about the infiltration of terrorists operating on behalf of groups that are active throughout the war-torn Middle East don’t know that more than 100,000 of Syrians are already on U.S. soil, with more on the way.
Following the ISIS-inspired terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., last month, scores of Americans backed GOP presidential leader Donald Trump’s plan to ban travel to the U.S. from that war-torn country, and others in the region, until the government has a way of properly and effectively vetting them.
But that isn’t President Obama’s vision. In fact, he has no problem admitting anyone from anywhere, including Syria. He has proposed admitting another 10,000 per year, which has “ignited a bitter debate in Washington,” Fox News reported, though 10 times as many have entered since 2012.
The news agency discovered that 102,313 Syrians were given permission to enter the U.S. as legal permanent residents or through other government programs including work, study and tourist visas, from 2012 through August 2015. That period coincides roughly with the escalation of the deadly civil war that continues to rampage throughout the country.
“The sheer number of people arriving on all kinds of visas and with green cards, and possibly U.S. citizenship, makes it impossible for our counterterrorism authorities to keep track of them all, much less prevent them from carrying out attacks or belatedly try to deport them,” Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, a group advocating less overall immigration, told Fox News.
Figures obtained by the news network from U.S. Customs and Border Protection show that more than 60,000 Syrian visa holders came into the country since 2012, including nearly 16,300 this year, as of August. Additional figures provided to the news network by a congressional source indicated that another 42,303 Syrians were given legal permanent resident status during the same period.
“It is highly unlikely that the 102,313 Syrians who were admitted over the past three years were effectively vetted,” said spokesman Ira Mehlman, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Even in countries where we have a strong diplomatic presence, the sheer volume of background checks being carried out precludes the kind of thorough vetting that is necessary.”
In October, the FBI confirmed it could not vet nearly all Syrian refugees Obama is admitting.
“We can only query against that which we have collected,” FBI Director Comey said in response to a line of questioning from Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson during a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee.
“And so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them,” he added.
Fox News reported that the Syrians who have escaped their country’s civil war, which has left an estimated 300,000 dead, and made it to the U.S. are more likely those with the means to access U.S. immigration bureaucracy. But, officials admit that even that system is susceptible to abuse.
Others have said they are concerned that some of those who have either been admitted recently or have come to the U.S. from other parts of the Middle East could become “radicalized” to act on behalf of ISIS, al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.
“I’m more fearful of those currently inside the U.S. predisposed to strike locally as with the San Bernardino model,” Fred Burton of the Stratfor global intelligence firm told Fox News. “I think it’s reasonable to assume that the U.S. government ran the minimum intelligence traces required at the time of entry.”