Most convicted terrorists are U.S. citizens. Why does the White House say otherwise?
Perhaps because lying is now an in-grained habit? Phil Hirschkorn reports on PBS:
The debate and pending court challenges in Hawaii, Washington and other states over the Trump administration’s revised executive order temporarily banning immigration by citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa — and suspending admittance of all refugees to the U.S. — revives the question: Is nationality a good predictor of terrorist intent on the homeland?
The January 27 and March 6 executive orders both seem to be predicated on the answer “yes.” President Donald Trump stated in a February 28 speech to Congress, “According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.”
But that statement proves to be misleading and inaccurate, according to government data and researchers who have studied these cases over the past 15 years. On March 2, PolitiFact rated the Trump statement “Mostly False.”
When it comes to the hundreds of convictions related to Islamic extremism achieved in U.S. federal courts since 9/11, the opposite is true. The vast majority of individuals convicted have been U.S. citizens, while some immigrants and refugees from the countries in Trump’s executive order have also been found guilty of terrorism and terrorism-related crimes.
The White House has indicated the Feb. 28 Trump statement was based on a list of 580 international terrorism-related investigations through December, 31 2014, distributed last year by then-Sen. Jeff Sessions and Sen. Ted Cruz in their capacity as members of a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, which Sessions chaired.
The list of 580 cases also formed the basis of a different list compiled by the Center on Immigration Studies, an organization that advocates for restricting immigration, which named 72 individuals from the seven countries blacklisted in the original Trump immigration ban as “terrorists.” But “about a dozen” of those defendants were convicted of non-terrorism crimes, according to the center’s Director of Policy Studies, Jessica Vaughan.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said on the PBS NewsHour on March 6, “Since 9/11, we have had 53 terrorists from those six countries either arrested or convicted of terrorism-related crimes.” His office said he was referring to that Center on Immigration Studies list, not including the 19 Iraqis who appeared on it.
But there are shortcomings in relying on the Department of Justice’s 2014 list of 580 names to assert “a majority” of convicted terrorists in the U.S. are immigrants.
First, the Department of Justice National Security Division does not compile lists of convicted terrorism or terrorism-related perpetrators by country of origin, citizenship, or immigration status, as it explained in the introduction to its January 2016 report to Senators Sessions and Cruz. . .
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