National Security Implications of Accepting Unvetted Migrants into the U.S.

On June 11, reports of eight Tajikistanis with suspected ties to ISIS-K, among the deadliest branches of ISIS, were arrested in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, after crossing the southern border into the United States. No national security issues were discovered when handled by the Department of Homeland Security and they were subsequently released into the country.

Later, authorities discovered the suspected ties to ISIS-K through a wiretap. A DHS official told CBS News that the eight illegal aliens crossed into the United States without proper documentation and were given notices to appear in immigration court.

This latest incident shows yet again the disastrous consequences of admitting unvetted migrants into the country, even as the Biden White House floats the possibility of the United States accepting some number of Palestinian refugees.

There are significant security reasons why no Muslim country will accept Palestinian refugees, especially Gaza’s closest neighbors, Jordan and Egypt. This also applies to wealthy Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.

Why then would the Biden administration import tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees from Gaza into our already struggling communities which have been forced to accept almost ten million illegal aliens from some 150 countries since 2021, including those engaged in or supporting terrorism?

In 2015, the United States admitted thousands of Syrian refugees, many of which possessed no identification documents. Because of the war in Syria, the United States government had no access to Syrian birth records, criminal or intelligence records, or any other identifying background information. The Department of Homeland Security and immigration officials had no way of identifying or knowing who these refugees were or their history. If a Syrian seeking refugee status in the United States was allied with ISIS, Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization, immigration officials had little way of discovering that information. This problem was exacerbated by the fact that refugees seeking refugee status in the United States and without identification documents could and most likely did, give a false name to immigration officials, and the officials were unable to discover the falsehood.

During that same time, then Director of the FBI, James B. Comey, summed up the problem when he told Congress, “We can query our database until the cows come home, but nothing will show up because we have no record of them.”

The Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division expressed the same concerns, explaining “it’s not that we have a lack of process, it’s that there’s a lack of information.”

There should be no doubt that terror organizations have and will exploit the refugee program, either by sending terror cells to the United States or by supporting and recruiting refugees who are already in the U.S.

Again, in 2021, the United States allowed tens of thousands of refugees from Afghanistan to migrate to the U. S. The takeover of the country by the Taliban and other terrorist groups, along with civil unrest, resulted in the destruction of many governmental buildings and important records. The lack of a physical U.S. presence and diplomatic relations with a legitimate Afghan government, greatly inhibits the ability to conventionally vet prospective refugees from Afghanistan. Many of these refugees are claiming asylum without any identification documents.

We are now on the cusp of shooting ourselves in the foot again, by allowing tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees from Gaza, without adequate vetting, into the United States. Hamas runs the government in Gaza and all governmental agencies. The State Department is always quick to say that they have a “robust vetting process” that they will require these refugees to successfully complete. But how can anyone believe that statement in light of the evidence that they will not have direct access to Hamas’ records and documents?  Are we going to add tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees to assist the pro-Palestine, pro-Hamas students already on our university campuses?

Federal law enforcement can collect and conduct biometric security checks on these migrants from Gaza, but if they have not been handled or investigated previously, then they will not have anything to compare against.

During the 2015 Syrian influx of refugees, several of our top security officials expressed serious national security concerns:

  • John Brennan, Director, Central Intelligence Agency: “I think it makes it even more incumbent on the security and intelligence professionals to make sure that we are able to look at individuals who are coming into this country with an eye toward what it is that we might know about individuals or ways that terrorist organizations might try to secret people into these networks, into these refugee flows…”(11/18/2015)
  • James B. Comey, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice: “We can only query against that which we have collected. And so, if someone has not made a ripple in the pond in Syria on a way that would get their identity or their interests reflected in our databases, we can query our databases until the cows come home but nothing will show up because we have no record of that person…you can only query what you have collected.” (10/21/2015)
  • James B. Comey, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice: “There is risk associated with bringing anybody in from the outside, but especially from a conflict zone like Syria…My concern there is that there are certain gaps I don’t want to talk about publicly in the data available to us.” (10/8/2015)
  • Jeh C. Johnson, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security: “It is true that we are not going to know a whole lot about the Syrians that come forth in this process…That is definitely a challenge…We know that organizations like ISIL might like to exploit this program…The good news is that we are better at vetting than we were eight years ago. The bad news is that there is no risk-free process.” (11-16-2015)
  • Nicholas J. Rasmussen, Director, National Counterterrorism Center, Office of the Director of National Intelligence: “The intelligence picture we’ve had of this [Syrian] conflict zone isn’t what we’d like it to be…you can only review against what you have.” (10-8-2015)
  • General (Retired) James Clapper, Director, Director of National Intelligence: “As [Syrian refugees] descend on Europe, one of the obvious issues that we worry about, and in turn as we bring refugees into this country, is exactly what’s their background? We don’t obviously put it past the likes of ISIL to infiltrate operatives among these refugees…That is a huge concern of ours.” (9/9/20145)
  • Michael Steinbach, Assistant Director for the Federal Bureau of Investigation: “You have to have information to vet, so the concern in Syria is that we don’t have the systems in places on the ground to collect information.” (2/12/2015)

If the refugee is a security risk, what information does the government have or access to compare with? How will the government know if the refugee has or had connections to terrorists or supporters of terror? How will the government know if the refugee has outstanding criminal matters or criminal records?  How will the government know if the refugee is or has been a terrorist?

Gaza is governed by Hamas. Hamas is made up of primarily Palestinians. Polls reflect that a majority of Palestinians support the 7 October 2023 attack on Israel and support the elimination of the Jews. How many of the Palestinian people agree that Israel deserves to exist? No one will believe that our security officials will be able to call 1-800-Hamas to check on the background, ideology or belief system of a Palestinian refugee from Gaza. Will our security officials be checking non-existent databases for negative information?

The perpetual state of Middle East unrest, migrancy, release of prisoners and potential influx of foreign fighters, coupled with the absence of reliable, accessible government records, reduces the vetting process to primarily one-on-one interviews, which is only one leg of the background stool and by no means a “robust process.”

With no substantial vetting process or capability to determine friend or foe we will be inviting calamity to our country. This is a serious national security and safety concern, and we need to remember that ISIS has for months been calling for their operatives to strike within the U.S. and Europe. We should not add to the threats. Recently, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned, “Now increasingly concerning is the potential for a coordinated attack here in the homeland, akin to the ISIS-K attack we saw at the Russia Concert Hall.” The attack on the Russia Concert Hall resulted in 133 dead and 145 injured.

We must close our borders and completely relook at the “vetting” process. If we can’t vet people coming into our country, then we should not let them in, period.

Strong leadership is needed now to properly frame this issue and awaken the American people to the potential catastrophe that lies ahead. Congress and every state must take decisive action now to halt this insane migration of illegal and unvetted persons.


Robert J. Bodisch, Sr.

By Robert J. Bodisch, Sr. Deputy Director (Retired) Texas Dept. of Public Safety Texas Homeland Security.


Islamic State Jihadis Crossed Open Border, Plotted Bombings

Kentucky: Muslim traveled to Islamic State, attended jihad training camp, received weapons and physical training

At Stanford, 13 Anti-Israel Activists Arrested For Burglary

Minnesota mosque linked to $250,000,000 fraud case

France: Migrant torched 16 apartments, many cars, and church, seriously injured student, won’t be deported

EDITORS NOTE: This Center for Security Policy column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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