The large number of migrants from Muslim-majority countries being granted visas to establish permanent residency in the United States has raised concerns among those who believe that such migration may provide cover for potential terrorists to enter the United States. Additional concerns involve U.S. communities’ ability to assimilate such large numbers of immigrants.
According to a report released by Breitbart on September 14, 117,423 migrants from Muslim-majority countries were permanently resettled within the United States in 2013. In that same year, the United States voluntarily admitted 122,921 temporary migrants from Muslim-majority countries as foreign students and foreign workers as well as 39,932 refugees and asylees from such countries.
The report also noted that Breitbart News’ “review of State Department and Homeland Security data reveals that the United States already admits more than a quarter of a million Muslim migrants each year.”
It also stated: “Between 2001 and 2013, the United States permanently resettled 1.5 million Muslim immigrants throughout the United States.”
However, it is difficult to verify the accuracy of these figures, because the U.S. government does not track immigrants by religion. As a Pew Research Center report from 2013 entitled“The Religious Affiliation of U.S. Immigrants: Majority Christian, Rising Share of Other Faiths” noted:
The U.S. government does not collect data on the religious affiliation of immigrants. However, estimates can be made using information gathered by the Department of Homeland Security on the countries of origin of new green card recipients.
Similarly, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad posted an article on its website back in 2007 that excerpted material from Being Muslim in America, a book published by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs. The article stated:
The size of the Muslim-American population has proved difficult to measure because the U.S. Census does not track religious affiliation. Estimates vary widely from 2 million to 7 million. What is clear, however, is that the Muslim-American population has been growing rapidly as a result of immigration, a high birth rate, and conversions.
It is very likely that in compiling its statistics, Breitbart News used the same methodology described by Pew: “estimates can be made using information gathered by the Department of Homeland Security on the countries of origin of new green card recipients.” However, in the interest of accuracy, it is important to make a distinction between “Muslim migrants” and “migrants from Muslim-majority countries” and to note that any figures about the religion of such migrants must by necessity be estimates.
The Breitbart report also cited information from the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, stating that it “confirms the terror threat posed by our federal immigration policy of issuing large numbers of visas to majority-Muslim countries.” Among the events culled from the Senate report:
• “A college student voluntarily admitted from Somalia, ‘who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, attempted to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon.’ ”
• “An immigrant voluntarily admitted from Kazakhstan ‘with lawful permanent resident status conspired to purchase a machine gun to shoot FBI and other law enforcement agents if they prevented him from traveling to Syria to join ISIS.’ ”
• “An immigrant voluntarily admitted from Sudan, ‘who applied for and received U.S. citizenship, tried to join ISIS and wage jihad on its behalf after having been recruited online.’ ”
Such instances indicate that there are serious problems with our nation’s immigration system, and that migrants — from whatever country they may originate (whether Muslim-majority like Somalia or Catholic-majority like Mexico) — must be subject to greater screening to determine if they pose a threat to U.S. security.