A new analysis of how the United States "vets" immigrants reveals that written visa and citizenship surveys ask if applicants are World War II Nazi veterans or sympathizers, but not members of ISIS, al Qaeda or other Islamic terror groups at war with America.
While State Department and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service branch of the Department of Homeland Security do ask if immigrants have been involved in terrorism, the most well known of over a dozen terrorist groups aren't listed in applications, according to the analysis from homeland security expert Mark A. Sauter.
He said that federal officials told him that the questions about terror group involvement are required by federal law, meaning that congressional action is needed to include modern-day threats in the written questions.
However, detailed written questions are asked about Nazi cooperation, as are questions about whether applicants are drunks, polygamists, or Communists. One survey does single out Colombian terror organizations in the written questions, though they have never attacked inside the U.S.
The lack of specific questioning about the biggest threat to the United States as the country eyes thousands in line from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and elsewhere seeking residency raises new questions about how immigrants are vetted, and gives ammunition to Republicans like presidential candidate Donald Trump who has called for "extreme vetting" to weed out likely terrorists.
Sauter, the author of Homeland Security, a McGraw-Hill textbook for universities, and a former Army officer, shared his recent investigation of U.S. immigration vetting with Secrets and said the system is full of holes.
What's more, he added in his report seen here, the U.S. doesn't have "readily available" statistics on how many immigrants who apply or are allowed in have admitted terrorist ties when asked. USCIS provided him with a list of groups it considers terrorist, but current groups like the "Muslim Brotherhood," often singled out by the Trump camp, was not on it.
From his report:
What we learned: During the visa and immigration process, someone seeking to become a US citizen is specifically asked in writing if he/she has been a Communist or World War II Nazi — and in many cases, whether he/she was a member of a Colombian terrorist organization — but is not specifically asked in writing whether he or she is or has been a member of ISIS, al-Qaida or other named Islamist terrorist groups.
The government does ask general questions applying to other terrorist groups. But it does not keep readily available information on the number and affiliations of applicants who admit being part of ISIS/al-Qaeda/other terrorist groups and appears to have no statistics at all on the number of applicants who say "No" when asked if they support the US Constitution.
The Nazi question is asked so that if applicants who did work for Adolf Hitler lie, that perjury can be used to deport them if they are ever outted. But it would appear to be out of date since an applicant would have to be about 90 years old to have been a Nazi in the timeframe given on USCIS form, "March 23, 1933-May 8, 1945."
"Critics of improved screening say that terrorists will just lie – that may be true in many cases, but misses the point that getting applicants on the record now can be a critical law enforcement tool later," Sauter said.
Sauter told Secrets that he was especially surprised when the government admitted it does not keep statistics on how many prospective immigrants say "No" when asked if they support the Constitution.
"All this doesn't mean Donald Trump has the right plans, but he is certainly correct in saying the immigration system needs an urgent update to respond to America's current threats," Sauter said. He plans further reports as his investigation continues and will post them on his blog www.needtosharenews.com.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com