At least 29 individuals legally granted entrance to the United States between 2012 and 2015 have been accused of having a role in terrorist plots, according to public reports that experts say highlight only a fraction of those foreigners in America who could have ties to terrorism.
At least 20 of these individuals, who legally entered the United States, were brought up on terrorism charges in 2015 alone, according to the list, which is being viewed by critics of the Obama administration’s immigration policy as proof that the United States needs stronger background checks and screening methods.
All the immigrants on the list were legally admitted to the United States, with the majority of them having come from Muslim-majority nations, according to public reports and other information.
Three immigrant individuals accused of providing material support to terrorists were charged this month.
In the most recent example, Tashfeen Malik, an immigrant from Pakistan who entered the United States on a fiancé visa and later become a lawful permanent resident, stands accused of killing 14 people in San Bernardino, California, along with her husband.
This attacks stands as the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil since September 11, 2001. Both shooters are reported to have sympathized with ISIS and expressed hatred towards Israel.
A Syrian immigrant who was granted lawful permanent resident status and later received full U.S. citizenship was charged in early December by U.S. authorities with smuggling rifle scopes and night-vision goggles from the United States to a Syrian rebel group known to be affiliated with an al Qaeda-affiliated organization.
Also in December, a Somali-American from Minnesota was taken to court on charges he encouraged friends to join ISIS.
In court this month, prosecutors accused the man of encouraging "the planned departures of several friends who have since been charged in the massive terrorism case — and at one point, was named their leader," according to local news reports that cited court documents.
There were at least two instances of legal immigrants being charged with terrorism links in November 2015.
In one case, an immigrant from India who was granted lawful permanent residence to the United States due to his marriage was indicted in federal court for conspiring to funnel thousands of dollars to al Qaeda.
Charges by the Department of Justice disclosed that at least four men aimed to travel to Yemen "to support violent jihad against U.S. military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the world."
The four individuals "were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to provide and conceal material support and resources to terrorists, one count of providing material support and resources to terrorists and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice," according to the Justice Department.
A second immigrant from India also indicted in the case is married to a U.S. citizen.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), a vocal opponent of Obama administration efforts to fund a massive immigration effort in the next year, has accused U.S. officials of turning a blind eye to terror ties when admitting immigrants.
"Preventing and responding to these acts is an effort encompassing thousands of federal agents and attorneys and billions of dollars: in effect, we are voluntarily admitting individuals at risk for terrorism and then, on the back end, trying to stop them from carrying out their violent designs," Sessions said in a recent statement.
Congressional critics have warned that a massive yearly spending bill set to be approved by Congress before the end of the year would allow the administration to approve "hundreds of thousands of migrants" from countries with major jihadist movement.
One senior congressional aide working on immigration issues explained that as the spending bill works its way through Congress, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are ignoring glaring flaws in the immigration system.
"Terrorists have proven they can easily exploit our immigration system—whether it be refugees, foreign students, or green card recipients," the source said.
"Additionally, as with [alleged San Bernardino shooter] Syed Farook, there is the grave problem of admitting migrants whose children are recruited into terrorism. Unfortunately, the omnibus reportedly fully-funds all of the president's resettlement operations and our autopilot immigration programs."