During the announcement of the new travel ban executive order, Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempted to make the case for the pause in allowing refugees into the U.S. with a statement warning of the potential national security danger they pose.
“[M]ore than 300 people who came here as refugees are under FBI investigation for potential terrorism-related activities,” Sessions said Monday morning. He also said that those who are “seeking to support or commit terrorist attacks here will try to enter through our refugee program.”
The line also appears in the text of the executive order: “The Attorney General has reported to me that more than 300 persons who entered the United States as refugees are currently the subjects of counterterrorism investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
It is true, according to senior Homeland Security and Justice Department officials, that about 300 refugees are currently being investigated by the FBI for terror ties. However, the officials will not say what countries these refugees had been resettled from, nor have they offered any information on when they came to the U.S. Officials also aren’t saying whether the status of any of these refugees has changed -- for instance, to legal permanent resident or naturalized citizen.
The FBI does not plan to release additional information.
What we do know is that the 300 refugees they are referring to have not been convicted of a crime. Merely investigating terror ties is not the same as convicting someone for having terror ties.
There has been some dissension within Homeland security over the danger posed by immigrants. As we have reported, there was disagreement within DHS about how to proceed in justifying the travel ban. As we reported Tuesday, the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis was originally tasked with producing an intelligence document tied to the executive order. But leaks caused the process to spill out into the public amid concerns the intelligence assessments were being tainted by politics. Rather than making its final intelligence assessment public, DHS has chosen instead to focus on these 300 refugees about which practically nothing is known.