Apr 24 2014
Contact: Kathryn Rexrode or Jessica Collins (202) 225-3951
Washington, D.C. – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte today pressed the Department of Homeland Security for additional information about El Medhi Semlali Fathi who, before his recent arrest, the FBI alleges to have been planning a bomb attack on a school and a federal building.
According to the FBI, Fathi came to the United States on a student visa, but his visa was terminated after he failed to attend classes. Allegedly, Fathi was subsequently arrested on trespassing charges where he was transferred to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement personnel. Fathi applied for withholding of removal because he claimed he would be persecuted by his home country. Despite numerous factual inaccuracies and inconsistencies in his application, Fathi’s application to remain in the United States was granted by an immigration judge.
Grassley and Goodlatte said the Fathi case may be a sign of the asylum process being abused. In the letter, they cite a 2009 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services fraud assessment that found at least 70 percent of asylum applications showed signs of fraud. Despite this fraud, Grassley and Goodlatte point out that approval rates by asylum officers have nearly doubled since 2007, and approval rates by immigration judges have increased by more than 20 percent.
“As a result of these lax standards and lenient policies on parole and detention, the number of individuals arriving at our borders claiming a credible fear of persecution who intend to apply for asylum has increased 586 (percent) in recent years,” Grassley and Goodlatte wrote.The full text of the letter is below. A signed copy can be found here.