Two top GOP lawmakers on Thursday called for information from the Department of Homeland Security about a recent immigration case in which an asylum seeker plotted to perpetrate jihad in the United States, according to a letter sent to the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.
In their letter, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley and House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte urged the Department of Homeland Security to release to them information about a 27-year-old Muslim named El Medhi Semlali Fathi, who was arrested by special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for allegedly plotting the bombings of a U.S. school and a federal building.
According to the FBI, Fathi arrived in the U.S. from Morocco with a student visa, but his visa was revoked by DHS's immigration authorities after Fathi failed to show up for his university classes.
Fathi was subsequently arrested for alleged trespassing charges at which time he was turned over to the custody of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel. Fathi applied for withholding of removal because he claimed he would be persecuted by his home country.
According to Grassley and Goodlatte, even with numerous factual inaccuracies and inconsistencies in his application -- which is considered a legal document -- Fathi’s request to remain in the U.S. was granted by a sympathetic immigration judge.
Grassley and Goodlatte claim that the Fathi case may be an example of how the asylum process is being abused by potential terrorists and criminals using false or counterfeit immigration documents and information.
"This case may be just the tip of the iceberg. The [Obama] administration appears to display a serious amount of laxity in performing its constitutional duty to protect America from enemies both foreign and domestic," said former terrorism task force member Det. Iris Aquino.
In their letter to DHS Secretary Johnson, the lawmakers mention the 2009 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services statistical study of asylum seeking that reveals about 70 percent of the applications submitted by asylum seekers showed evidence of fraud.
Yet despite this suggestion of widespread fraud, approval rates by 'asylum officers' have nearly doubled since 2007, and approval rates by immigration judges have increased upwards of 20 percent, claim the lawmakers.
“As a result of these lax standards and lenient policies on parole and detention, the number of individuals arriving at our borders claiming a credible fear of persecution who intend to apply for asylum has increased 586 percent in recent years,” Grassley and Goodlatte wrote in their letter to Secretary Johnson.