Senior Homeland Security official León Rodríguez admitted Thursday that some refugees are allowed into the United States based solely on their testimony to authorities.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) grilled Rodríguez on the Obama administration’s refugee resettlement program during a Senate Judiciary immigration subcommittee hearing. Cruz and other lawmakers highlighted issues with the current refugee vetting process.
Cruz began his questioning by reading part of a DHS memorandum on the vetting process for refugees, Townhall reported. The memorandum states that the “refugee program is particularly vulnerable of fraud due to loose evidentiary requirements where at times the testimony of an applicant alone is sufficient for approval.”
When Cruz finished reading, Rodríguez, director of Citizenship and Immigration Services at DHS, fired back against the memorandum, arguing the document was written by an individual who lacked knowledge of the vetting process.
“What I am telling you is that I would not give that document a whole lot of credit because whoever that person was did not do the homework to learn about our process,” Rodríguez said.
Cruz then pushed Rodríguez on whether it was true or false that testimony of the applicant can solely be sufficient for approval into the United States.
“It depends on the case. Usually we do have extensive documentation. Syrians in particular present with extensive documentation passports, military records, so there is documentation that we review,” Rodríguez said.
Rodríguez went into further detail before Cruz cut him off, saying he asked a simple question and wanted a simple answer but his time had expired.
“There are cases where the testimony is not necessarily corroborated by documents, but it is always tested against country conditions and other information. That is why it doesn’t lend itself in the way that you’re asking the question, senator,” Rodríguez said.
“Are you saying it’s true, or are you saying it’s false?” Cruz asked. “I’m just trying to understand.”
“I am acknowledging that, yes, testimony can be the basis for the grant of a refugee, but it needs to be tested against other information that we know–about the country conditions, at a minimum,” Rodríguez said.
Following Cruz’s questioning, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) lambasted Rodríguez for taking so long to answer Cruz’s question.
“This is the Congress of the United States. We have a right to ask questions. We expect unbiased objective answers and [Cruz] took too long to get you to acknowledge that answer and I do not appreciate it,” Sessions said.
FBI Director James Comey also admitted Wednesday that the federal government does not have the ability to conduct background checks on 10,000 Syrian refugees coming to the United States.