Posted by Neha Dutt on February 10, 2014

One of the maiden steps in the overhaul of US immigration bill has been taken by the US President Barack Obama since he committed to use more executive directives during his State of the Union address in January.

Eased Rules for "Limited" Aid to Terrorists

The Obama administration has relaxed the rules for would-be asylum-seekers, refugees and those who desire to come to the United States of America, and most importantly also all those who gave undefined "limited" aid to terrorists or terrorist groups.

The new guidelines by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department state that all those who have offered "limited material support" to terrorist organizations are not automatically forbidden from the United States.

Earlier, according to September 11 provision in immigrant law, dubbed as terrorism-associated inadmissibility grounds, debarred anyone who was perceived to have aided the terrorists. This law was strictly followed save upon a few abnormal cases.

Case Study

Reportedly, a 49-year-old real estate agent in northen Virginia, Morteza Assadi, has been offered this new medicine in the form of law by the government as for the last ten years his green card application has been impounded. In the early 1980s, he disseminated fliers for a mujahedeen group that obstructed the government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This organization was once touted as a terrorist group by the U.S. government. When he had informed the US government about it during the application for asylum in the late 1990s his wife was granted the US citizenship, whereas his case has not been considered.

According to him, "When we are teenagers, we have different mindsets. I thought, I´m doing my country a favor." Assadi was associated with the group for a very short span of time, and the group was eventually obliterated from the list of terrorist organizations in 2012 by the US government. He has not been part of these activities since the time of teenage. Now he wants the US government to consider these activities fructified from a "teenager´s mind", and classify them among "limited" terrorist activities.

His lawyer has already filed a case in federal court to request the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to process Assadi´s green card application. However, with the easing of rules, the government may function in this direction on its own. Speaking on the matter, his lawyer said, "In the past, the minute your name was associated with a (terrorist) organization you were being punished. Not every act is a terrorist act and you can´t just lump everyone together."

Statement from Homeland Security Department

According to the Homeland Security Department, these changes in rules offer the officials more options in implementation, however, backed with the purpose of obstructing the terrorists or their sympathizers.

According to Homeland Security spokesman Peter Boogaard, "Refugee applicants are subject to more security checks than any other category of traveler to the United States. Nothing in these exemptions changes the rigorous, multi-layered security screening we do." He added, "The change does not specifically address "freedom fighters" who may have fought against an established government, including members of rebel groups who have led revolts in Arab Spring uprisings."

The department has announced that the applicants seeking refugee status, asylum and visas in the United States would still be checked to avert any future threat to national security. The new rules give the officials a power to identify "limited" terrorist help or check whether the applicant is a part of "routine commercial transactions or routine social transactions."

Leahy, D-Vt. stated, "The existing interpretation was so broad as to be unworkable." He further added that previously the rules barred a person from citizenship on grounds that "no rational person would consider".

New Rules naive?

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte has dubbed these changed rules as naive considering the present global terrorist threats.

He stated, "President Obama should be protecting U.S. citizens rather than taking a chance on those who are aiding and abetting terrorist activity and putting Americans at greater risk."

All those whose visas and asylum applicants whose applications have been stalled under the previous immigration rules may be smiling with the changed laws but the fructification of these changes will be witnessed only in future.

Senator Charles Schumer Speaks on Overhauled Immigration Reforms!

Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and one of chief architects of the Senate´s bipartisan immigration plan said, "Let´s enact the law this year but simply not let it actually start until 2017 after President Obama´s term is over."

He spoke on NBC´s "Meet the Press" program and said, "Now, I think the rap against him that he won´t enforce the law is false. He´s deported more people than any president but you could actually have the law start in 2017 without doing much violence to it."

He said that it would be hard to pass immigration reform in 2015 or 2016 as Republicans would have conservative stance on immigration to ascertain that they are different from Democrats.

The Senator stated that U.S. immigration reforms could be passed now but enacted after President Barack Obama leaves office. Even Republicans would have more proclivity towards Schumer´s idea about delayed enactment. And this would be more plausible especially if there were reforms to augment border security and prevent employers from employing undocumented workers.