In response to the plight of Syrian refugees, the Obama administration has pledged to “significantly increase” to 100,000 annually the number of migrants it accepts over the next two years, with the majority coming from Syria and “strife-torn areas of Africa,” according to an Associated Press story.

Here at home, as reported in a thoroughly researched story in the Star Tribune (“Called to Jihad from the heartland,” Sept. 20) a dozen Somali-American men have aggressively sought to join the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with three pleading guilty, five awaiting trial, and three others either dead or at-large. One of the men is cooperating with authorities.

The juxtaposition of these two stories should give U.S. policymakers — including Minnesota’s entire congressional delegation — a compelling reason to demand an immediate moratorium on new refugee and asylum transfers to the U.S.

The Minnesota experience offers compelling evidence that our refugee and asylum programs are entirely ineffective in assimilating new migrants. Indeed, as the Star Tribune story correctly stated: “No state in the country has provided more fresh young recruits to violent jihadist groups … ”

A moratorium should remain in place until Congress properly reviews and revises U.S. participation in United Nations and other refugee programs to ensure that they properly screen applicants for radical attitudes as well as assure widespread assimilation and self-sufficiency.

Our nation faces overwhelming systemic immigration challenges — for example, dealing with 12 million illegal immigrants — that are imposing substantial burdens on taxpayers, workers, law enforcement and our communities.

Such burdens would increase because, in accordance with current U.S. policy, the incoming refugees would be placed on a pathway to citizenship and given U.S. green cards as well as access to cash welfare, federal housing and other benefits.

While determining the best way to achieve economic and cultural assimilation is critical for refugees from any country, the simple fact remains that Minnesota’s ongoing experience with East African refugees demands caution when accepting refugees from Islamic countries in the throes of civil war. Minnesota’s status as a breeding ground for Islamic terrorist activity should be a national wake-up call for Congress and the American people.

The Department of Justice’s U.S. attorney for Minnesota, Andrew Luger, stated in April that “we have a terror recruiting problem in Minnesota,” which the Star Tribune’s story clearly documented. Given these problems in Minnesota, it is obvious that the current vetting procedures utilized by the State Department are incapable of adequately screening refugees for radical anti-Western attitudes and predisposition to engaging in acts of terrorism.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration appears to be deaf to the situation in Minnesota. In making his announcement about the significant increase in migrants, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “In consultation with Congress, we will continue to explore ways to increase those figures while maintaining robust security.” It is precisely the lack of robust security that has made Minnesota ground zero in recruiting by Islamic extremists.

One only need look at recent history to know it takes very few ideologically devoted terrorists to inflict serious physical, economic and psychological harm upon our country. The fact that 9/11, the 2009 Fort Hood massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing were perpetrated by just 22 disciples of radical Islam is ample reason for Congress to suspend participation in refugee programs until appropriate national security safeguards are implemented.

In the meantime, to help alleviate the current Middle East refugee crisis, the U.S. should provide immediate economic and other forms of humanitarian assistance to beleaguered refugees from war-torn areas around the globe. The president and secretary of state should call upon Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich nations in the region to provide financial assistance and absorb refugees, at least on a temporary basis.

The first responsibility of the federal government and every member of Congress is to defend the U.S. and protect the American people. Given current circumstances, it is appropriate to suspend transfers of new refugees and protect our citizens from those who harbor radical anti-Western views and are willing to wage war on U.S. soil.


Jim Hagedorn is a Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s First Congressional District.