News & Politics

Great News: DHS Doesn't Know the Number of Syrian Refugees in U.S.

Way to keep close track of those Syrian refugees, DHS.

Deputy Assistant Director for Policy Kelli Ann Burriesci, a woman the Department of Homeland Security swears is “an expert on these issues,” was grilled by a congressional committee about Syrian refugees and the visa waiver program.

The hearing did not go well for Ms. Burriesci or DHS.

Washington Free Beacon:

A senior Department of Homeland Security official was unable to tell Congress the number of Syrian refugees who have entered the United States in the last year and the number of Americans who have travelled to Syria and returned, in testimony on Capitol Hill that angered many lawmakers.

Kelli Ann Burriesci, a deputy assistant secretary in the department’s office of policy, could not provide statistics about immigration when the House’s national security subcommittee grilled her about potential flaws in the visa waiver program.

While lawmakers had requested that its secretary, Jeh Johnson, testify before the committee, the agency sent Burriesci instead, saying that she is the resident expert on these issues.

However, Burriesci struggled to answer questions, prompting anger from lawmakers and concerns that the department is failing to track potentially dangerous immigrants.

“How many Syrian refugees have entered the U.S. in the last year” Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) asked Burriesci.

“Sorry, I didn’t bring any of the refugee numbers with me,” she responded.

Jordon then asked: “Do you know how many Americans have traveled to Syria in the last year?”

“I don’t have that number on me either,” the official responded.

“So you wouldn’t know how many Americans have traveled there and returned?” Jordan pressed.

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

When asked by Jordan, “How many visa waiver program overstays are there currently in the U.S.,” Burriesci again responded that she does not “have information” on that subject.

The lack of answers led to frustration.

“We’re talking about the refugee issue and the Visa Waiver Program issue and you can’t give us numbers on either program?” Jordan asked.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.) noted that the last time Congress was provided with accurate information about the number of people still living in the United States with expired visas was in 1994.

“If we’re looking at visa overstays, and sitting here debating a visa waiver program, and yet, the very instance of visa overstays and the potential terrorist threat that accompanies that, you’re tracking that, yet the last information Congress got was 1994,” Meadows said. “Do you not see a problem with that?”

“I think you should receive the data as soon as it is available,” Burriesci responded.

Does DHS know these numbers but simply send an uninformed bureaucrat to testify? Or are they really in the dark about the status of Syrian refugees and the number of Americans who have returned from Syria?

Either scenario is possible. The unseriousness with which the administration is approaching the question of Syrian refugees suggests keeping track of them simply isn’t a high priority and that once here, the refugees are free to go wherever they desire.

While we can’t keep track of every single foreigner who overstays his or her visa, the idea that we can’t track refugees from a country crawling with terrorists is incredible. It’s almost as if the Obama administration believes basic counterterrorism efforts are a waste of time — at least when there are guns to grab and Republicans to demonize.

You simply can’t believe anything that comes out of the White House or the administration when it comes to Syrian refugees.