The immigration policy of the administration of President Barack Obama has come under renewed attack from Republicans after newly released figures from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed that in the last five years, the United States issued about 680,000 green cards to immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.
The administration also plans to issue green cards to another set of 680,000 immigrants from Muslim-majority nations in the next five years, except Congress is able to change the administration’s policy.
The DHS figures causing outrage among opponents of the administration’s immigration policy were released by Senator Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest.
According to a statement by the subcommittee, “Assuming no change in visa policy, the U.S. can expect to give green cards to another 680,000 more migrants from these countries over the next five years. A green card entitles recipients to access federal benefits, lifetime residency, work authorization, and a direct route to becoming a U.S. citizen.”
The statement noted further that the number 680,000 is not “an estimate of total migration, as it does not include temporary migrants who return home, nor is it an estimate of population change, as it does not include births or deaths, among other considerations.”
To help put the magnitude of the numbers into perspective, the Washington Examiner noted that the figure of 680,000 immigrants from Muslim-majority countries is larger than the population of Washington D.C., about 658,893.
In addition to accepting 680,000 immigrants from Muslim-majority countries over the next five years, the Obama administration also plans to grant refugee status to 100,000 more people from Muslim-majority countries — including Syria — by 2016.
The refugees would be able to petition the authorities to grant refugee status to their relatives.
Below is a list of the green card totals from top receiving countries in the fiscal years 2009 to 2013.
“Pakistan (83K), Iraq (83K), Bangladesh (75K), Iran (73K), Egypt (45K), Somalia (31K), Uzbekistan (24K), Turkey (22K), Morocco (22K), Jordan (20K), Albania (20K), Lebanon (16K), Yemen (16K), Indonesia (15K), Syria (14K), Sudan (13K), Afghanistan (11K), Sierra Leone (10K), Guinea (8K), Senegal (7K), Saudi Arabia (7K), Algeria (7K), Kazakhstan (7K), Kuwait (5K), Gambia (5K), United Arab Emirates (4K), Azerbaijan (4K), Mali (3K), Burkina Faso (3K), Kyrgyzstan (3K), Kosovo (3K), Mauritania (2K), Tunisia (2K), Tajikistan (2K), Libya (2K), Turkmenistan (1K), Qatar (1K), Chad (1K)”
The figures have sparked uproar among critics of the administration’s immigration policy. Many are alarmed at the increasing intake of immigrants from the Middle East due to security and economic reasons.
Official figures from the Congressional Office of Refugee Resettlement show, for instance, that about 92 percent of people who entered the U.S. as refugees between 2008 and 2013 were on food stamps.
Critics also cite U.S. Census Bureau data which show that about 41.3 million — about one-quarter of the U.S. population — are foreign-born or people with foreign-born parents.
The subcommittee release also cited Pew data which show that 83 percent of the Americans want to see a significant reduction in immigration.
“Pew polling data shows that 83 percent of the public (across all parties) opposes this baseline and believes the level of immigration should either be frozen or reduced.”
However, supporters of the administration’s immigration policy argue that the increased immigration benefits the economy. Cities such as Detroit in Michigan — which went through municipal bankruptcy after dramatic drop in its population — are often cited as places in need of influx of immigrants.
Michigan, for instance, has a comparatively high proportion of Arab Muslim residents, and many Arab residents, such as Ishmael Basha, a business -owner who emigrated to the U.S. from Syria in the 1980s, believe that an influx of Arab immigrants could help revive the city, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The opposition to immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, especially Middle Eastern Arab countries, increased following the November 13 Paris attacks in which more than 130 people were killed.
Some governors called for a pause to the program to accept Syrian refugees due to concerns that it opens up the country to infiltration by ISIS terrorists pretending to be genuine refugees. For instance, Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan said his office had decided to pause acceptance of new refugees until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducts a comprehensive review of security checks.
According to the statement released by the office of governor, “Given the terrible situation in Paris, I’ve directed that we put on hold our efforts to accept new refugees until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security completes a full review of security clearances and procedures… Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration, but our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.”
[Photo By Susan Walsh/AP]