In February, the Obama administration eased restrictions on asylum seekers with only loose or incidental ties to terror groups. The change was approved by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry.
It allows individuals who provided “limited material support” to terror groups to be considered for entry into the U.S. Supporters of the change argued that a prohibition on anyone who has ever aided terrorists unfairly penalizes thousands of potential refugees. According to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), only persons whose acts were “so tangential and minimal that no rational person would consider them supporters of terrorist activities,” will be considered for entry into the U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security offered several examples of individuals who might be affected and helped by the eased restrictions: a restaurant owner who served food to terrorists; a farmer who paid a toll to terrorists to cross a bridge to sell his food; or a Syrian who paid an opposition group to help him get out of war-torn Syria. “These exemptions cover discrete kinds of limited material support … that was insignificant in amount, provided incidentally in the course of everyday social, commercial, or humanitarian interactions, or provided under significant pressure,” a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said.
Critics say that despite these good intentions, the eased restrictions raise security concerns, particularly after recent reports of asylum fraud. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said, “We need to tighten security standards for asylum, not relax them even further.”
If you are seek asylum or face any other immigration-related legal matter, speak to an experienced immigration attorney and obtain the help you need. You may also be facing issues with work authorization documents, a visa, a violation of U.S. law, or you may be seeking residency or citizenship. A good immigration lawyer will assess your personal situation; give you sound legal advice; and work aggressively to protect your rights. If you are an immigrant facing a hearing, a trial, or a threat of deportation, please get the legal help you need and talk with an experienced immigration attorney today.