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Loose immigration rules allowing thousands of Terrorists to slip into US undetected

The chance of an American being killed in an attack carried out by a foreign-born terrorist is 1 in 3.6 million per year

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FILE - A protester holds a sign at San Francisco International Airport during a demonstration to denounce President Donald Trump's executive order that bars citizens of seven predominantly Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., Jan. 28, 2017. VOA

President Donald Trump’s now-suspended executive order on immigration is based on a widely disputed premise: Loose immigration rules are allowing thousands of terrorists to slip into the United States undetected.

Shortly after a Muslim American gunman killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub last June, Trump told supporters, “You have thousands of shooters like this, with the same mentality, out there in this country, and we’re bringing thousands and thousands of them back in to this country every year.”

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The president echoed that claim after a federal judge halted his order Friday. “Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many bad people and dangerous people may be pouring into our country,” he tweeted.

But experts say there is little evidence to back up that contention.

Indeed, most recent terrorist attacks in the United States have been carried out by homegrown Muslim extremists with few or no links to foreign countries, with recent immigrants and refugees accounting for a minority of mostly non-lethal plots. These same experts attribute that to stringent security procedures put in place after the attacks of 9/11 nearly 15 years ago.

“The U.S. government has been extremely effective at preventing the infiltration of terrorists into the United States,” said Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina who tracks Muslim American involvement in terrorism. “This is one of the great success stories of the post-9/11 era.”

Plots on record

Using open source records, Kurzman has identified 414 Muslim Americans who have been involved in extremist plots in the U.S. since 9/11. Among them were 217 natural-born citizens, 60 naturalized citizens, 39 legal permanent residents, 38 refugees and 15 undocumented immigrants.

In total, attacks carried out by Muslim American extremists have killed 123 Americans in the U.S. since 9/11, according to Kurzman.

The majority of cases documented by Kurzman were non-lethal, ranging from attending terrorist training abroad, to conspiring to join al-Qaida and Islamic State.

According to Kurzman, more than 100 American Muslims have tried to join Islamic State, mostly during the terror group’s “burst of mini popularity” in late 2014 and early 2015. A couple of dozen made it to Iraq and Syria, he said. No foreign fighter has returned to carry out an attack.

In addition, no one with a family background from any of the seven countries affected by the immigration order has been involved in a deadly terrorist attack in the U.S., though nearly 100 have been “associated” with violent extremism.

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“The level of involvement by Muslim Americans in violent extremism is still quite low as compared with the overall level of murders and violence in the United States,” he said, noting there have been some 240,000 homicides in the United States in the same period.

Support for ban

Nevertheless, supporters of Trump’s order say it makes sense to restrict entry to the United States while the new administration reviews procedures to make sure they are adequate.

“This is a temporary halt in order to allow the U.S. to implement the necessary security measures,” said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates reduced immigration levels.

Current screening procedures are far from foolproof, he said, echoing concerns voiced by former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and other security officials in recent years.

“That’s what the pause is intended to find out, so that we do have systems in place to make sure that we’re not admitting people who might pose a danger,” Mehlman said.

Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute in Washington, has examined data going back to the 1970s. Nowrasteh estimated that 3,024 Americans were killed by foreign-born terrorists on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015. All but 41 of those deaths occurred in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The risk of dying in a terrorist attack remains infinitesimal: The chance of an American being killed in an attack carried out by a foreign-born terrorist is 1 in 3.6 million per year, according to Nowrasteh. The likelihood of being killed by a refugee? 1 in 3.64 billion per year.

“In terms of the total threat that the U.S. faces on the homeland, it’s a lot smaller than people realize,” he said.

Numbers called misleading

In highlighting the terrorist threat, Trump has cited the more than 1,000 cases of Muslim American violent extremism under investigation by the FBI in all 50 states. And Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general nominee, last year released data purporting that at least 380 of the 580 individuals convicted in terror cases since 9/11 were foreign-born.

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But Kurzman and Nowrasteh said these figures paint a misleading picture. Kurzman pointed out that only a few dozen indictments per year have resulted from the FBI cases. Many cases are closed without charges, while others end up in charges unrelated to terrorism. In one notable case, Hussein Abuali and Rabi Ahmed of New Jersey were arrested on charges of conspiring to buy rocket-propelled grenades; they were indicted for stealing two truckloads of cereal.

Nowrasteh said that 241 out of 580 terror cases cited in the Sessions report were for offenses “related to terrorism,” even though “there is no such thing as ‘terrorism-related’ in the U.S. law.”(VOA)

Next Story

Washington Becomes First State to Approve Composting of Human Remains

Loved ones are allowed to keep the soil to spread, just as they might spread the ashes of someone who has been cremated — or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree

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Katrina Spade, who promotes using composting as an alternative to burying or cremating human remains, poses in a cemetery in Seattle as she displays a sample of compost material left from the decomposition of a cow using wood chips, alfalfa and straw, April 19, 2019. VOA

Ashes to ashes, guts to dirt.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation Tuesday making Washington the first state to approve composting as an alternative to burying or cremating human remains.

It allows licensed facilities to offer “natural organic reduction,” which turns a body, mixed with substances such as wood chips and straw, into about two wheelbarrows’ worth of soil in a span of several weeks.

Loved ones are allowed to keep the soil to spread, just as they might spread the ashes of someone who has been cremated — or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree.

“It gives meaning and use to what happens to our bodies after death,” said Nora Menkin, executive director of the Seattle-based People’s Memorial Association, which helps people plan for funerals.

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs a bill into law at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., May 21, 2019, that allows licensed facilities to offer “natural organic reduction,” which turns a body, mixed with substances such as wood chips and straw, into soil in a span of several weeks. VOA

Supporters say the method is an environmentally friendly alternative to cremation, which releases carbon dioxide and particulates into the air, and conventional burial, in which people are drained of their blood, pumped full of formaldehyde and other chemicals that can pollute groundwater, and placed in a nearly indestructible coffin, taking up land.

“That’s a serious weight on the Earth and the environment as your final farewell,” said Sen. Jamie Pedersen, the Seattle Democrat who sponsored the measure.

Origins of human composting

He said the legislation was inspired by his neighbor Katrina Spade, who was an architecture graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, when she began researching the funeral industry. She came up with the idea for human composting, modeling it on a practice farmers have long used to dispose of livestock.

She tweaked the process and found that wood chips, alfalfa and straw created a mixture of nitrogen and carbon that accelerates natural decomposition when a body is placed in a temperature- and moisture-controlled vessel and rotated.

A pilot project at Washington State University tested the idea last year on six bodies, all donors who Spade said wanted to be part of the study. In 2017, Spade founded Recompose, a company working to bring the concept to the public. It’s working on raising nearly $7 million to establish a facility in Seattle and begin to expand elsewhere, she said.

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A pilot project at Washington State University tested the idea last year on six bodies, all donors who Spade said wanted to be part of the study. Pixabay

State law previously dictated that remains be disposed of by burial or cremation. The law, which takes effect in May 2020, added composting as well as alkaline hydrolysis, a process already legal in 19 other states. The latter uses heat, pressure, water and chemicals like lye to reduce remains.

Angry emails

Cemeteries across the country are allowed to offer natural or “green” burials, by which people are buried in biodegradable shrouds or caskets without being embalmed. Composting could be a good option in cities where cemetery land is scarce, Pedersen said. Spade described it as “the urban equivalent to natural burial.”

The state senator said he has received angry emails from people who object to the idea, calling it undignified or disgusting. “The image they have is that you’re going to toss Uncle Henry out in the backyard and cover him with food scraps,” Pedersen said. To the contrary, he said, the process will be respectful.

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Recompose’s website envisions an atrium-like space where bodies are composted in compartments stacked in a honeycomb design. Families will be able to visit, providing an emotional connection typically missing at crematoriums, the company says.

“It’s an interesting concept,” said Edward Bixby, president of the Placerville, California-based Green Burial Council. “I’m curious to see how well it’s received.” (VOA)