Vigilance: DHS Official Doesn't Know How Many Syrian Refugees Are In The U.S–Or The Number Of Overstayed Visas

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 15, 2015 3:33 PM
Vigilance: DHS Official Doesn't Know How Many Syrian Refugees Are In The U.S–Or The Number Of Overstayed Visas

If you thought Department of Homeland Security’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelli Ann Burriesci's inability to answer Rep. Trey Gowdy’s question on simple due process regarding the terrorism watch list was bad, it wasn’t any better when Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked how many people have overstayed their visas, along with the number of Syrian refugees that have entered the United States. Burriesci couldn’t give a figure to those two questions during the House Oversight Committee’s December 10 hearing on terrorism watch lists and the visa waiver program.

“How many Syrian refugees have entered in the United States last year?” asked Jordan.

“Sir, I didn’t bring any of my–any of the refugee numbers with me because I was prepared to talk about visa waiver, but I can certainly have us send that to you,” replied Burriesci.

“Do you know how many Americans have traveled to Syria last year?” asked Jordan.

“I don’t have that number on me either,” said Burriesci.

“So, you wouldn’t know how many Americans have traveled and then returned,” continued Jordan.

“I don’t have that number one me,” Burriesci said again.

Jordan continued by asking her how many people have overstayed their visas that are in the waiver program.

“Sir, I didn’t bring that number with me,” said Burriesci yet again.

Jordan noted that Ms. Burriesci had the longest title of anyone called to testify before the committee, noting that her official title is Deputy Assistant Secretary, Screening Coordination Office of Policy Department of Homeland Security.

He then invoked what I’m assuming are the ISIS-executed terrorist attacks in Paris and the horrific San Bernardino shooting, which is increasingly looking like a terror attack, noting that they deal with the questions he’s asking about–visa waiver and Syrian refugees–and that the DHS can’t give any numbers on both of those programs.

Burriesci replied (again) that she was prepared to talk about the visa waiver program, which Jordan interjected by saying that he just asked her how many people with visa overstays are currently in the U.S., and she couldn’t give him an answer.

It’s a rather painful exchange, but so was Secretary of State’s John Kerry rather oblivious remarks to NBC’s Chuck Todd, who talked about the screening process when answering the former’s question about the foreign reaction to Trump’s call to ban Muslim immigration. Kerry has been in Paris for a UN conference on global warming (via Newsbusters) [emphasis mine]:

CHUCK TODD: You've spent a lot of time with a lot of diplomats from around the world. What's been their reaction to Donald Trump's proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration into the United States?

JOHN KERRY: Well, those people who know the United States well are quite shocked because they see it as totally contrary to American values, as discriminatory and, frankly as potentially dangerous in that it seems like a person running for President of the United States, is doing well in the polls, is prepared to take actions that would, in fact, ratify the notion that people are at war against Islam, not against Daesh. And so I think you have to be very careful just by categorizing people by being Muslim. That is discrimination and it is contrary, I think, to the fundamental values of our country. We have plenty of ways to vet people. We already do it! We have a huge process of examining people for visas. We know who's coming into our country for the most part.

Todd followed up by asking Secretary Kerry about social media, wherein he said that a review has been ordered. And that "clearly the social media has placed a whole new burden and a whole new set of questions but not impossible ones to resolve and I think we need to look at this very, very carefully which what we're doing before we jump to a wholesale prohibition without understanding what the implications may be." 

Guy wrote yesterday that not only did San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik pass three background checks, but also the DHS was barred from viewing her social media presence while reviewing her visa application. Both Malik, and her husband, Syed Farook, were radicalized as early as 2013, according to the FBI. Farook was the second shooter. 

Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin has called on DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to be fired over this revelation:

“This is a no-brainer, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson must resign or President Obama must fire him immediately. It is frightening for Americans to learn that Johnson supported a secret policy to ignore the public social media postings of foreign nationals trying to enter the United States out of concern for political correctness and fear of ‘bad public relations’ for the Obama Administration. This is why people are rightfully scared, they do not trust the Obama administration to keep them safe. The job of the DHS Secretary is to do everything within his power to keep Americans safe from those who would attack us, not to worry about politics or public relations.”