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Admin unilaterally changes law, lets immigrants with limited terror ties in U.S.

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On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department bypassed Congress and published new exemptions that would allow immigrants who provided “limited material support” to terrorists into the country, the Daily Caller reported.

“These exemptions cover five kinds of limited material support that have adversely and unfairly affected refugees and asylum seekers with no tangible connection to terrorism: material support that was insignificant in amount or provided incidentally in the course of everyday social, commercial, family or humanitarian interactions, or under significant pressure," an official with the DHS told the Daily Caller.

According to the unnamed official, the exemptions are needed and will be applied on a case-by-case basis “after careful review," which reportedly includes security checks with various agencies.

“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," the official added.

Both Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry approved the exemptions.

Although the administration calls the rule change reasonable, others differ.

“[T]here is a very legitimate question as to whether the administration actually has the authority to change the law in this way,” said Jessica Vaughan, a former State Department official and the current director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies.

“It seems to me that they are announcing that they will be disregarding yet another law written by Congress that they don’t like and are replacing it with their own guidelines, which in this case appear to be extremely broad and vague, and which are sure to be exploited by those seeking to game our generous refugee admissions program," she added.

Current law says that either the secretary of state or the DHS secretary in consultation with each other and with the U.S. Attorney General can “determine that certain terrorism bars of the INA do not apply.”

Vaughan acknowledged that some seeking entry have been denied due to unintentional contact with terrorists, but warned that the new rule may be abused by those wanting to get around the system.

“If the recent past is any guide, those evaluating these cases will be ordered to ignore red flags in the applications, especially if the applicant is supported by one of the many advocacy groups that have the ear of senior DHS staff,” she said. “The administration already approves of the admission of gang members as asylees and criminals in the DACA program and grants of prosecutorial discretion, so I don’t expect them to be troubled by the admission of terrorists and garden variety fraudsters in our refugee program. This is how we end up with families like the Tsarnaev brothers, who were originally admitted for political asylum.”

Incidents like this are the reason House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Obama can't be trusted on immigration reform.

"There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," he told reporters Thursday.

He also said Obama is "running around the country telling everyone that he's going to keep acting on his own."

Obama, who declared he has a "pen and a phone," said he would bypass Congress and rule by executive fiat "wherever and whenever" he can during the recent State of the Union address.

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