OTR Interviews

The slippery slope of easing asylum rules for those linked to terror

Controversy erupts when Obama administration eases restrictions on asylum seekers with loose or incidental ties to terror and insurgent groups


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 10, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: President Obama making good on his threat to use his pen and phone. Republican lawmakers insisting this executive order will put the U.S. at risk. The Obama administration now easing the rules for asylum seekers to come to the United States. This includes people who have given limited support to terrorists.

Republican Senator Jeff Sessions warning this will make us less safe. Senator Sessions joins us.

Nice to see you, sir.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R-ALA.: Thank you. Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: You don't like this idea at all?

SESSIONS: No. It's just another example, I think, of the executive branch not executing the law, not faithfully carrying out the laws, but actually issuing orders that undermine the enforcement of the law. And Congress was right to say, if you are connected to giving material support to a terrorist, you shouldn't be admitted into the United States. We can't admit everybody. And people don't have a constitutional right to demand entry to the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you define what's giving support? The example given here as someone who would be excluded, is a restaurant owner who fed food to an opposition group. Is that a problem?

SESSIONS: If they met every week in his restaurant and planned the attacks, maybe, of all the people we admit, he wouldn't be the one to admit. I think you do have, Greta, under the law as written, the right of an individual to ask for special circumstances and to be admitted. There is a waiver process in the law. What the president did was put that aside and neuter or eliminate our requirements that are in the law.

VAN SUSTEREN: He shifted the presumption, meaning that you can get a sense that he makes it easier. But under the old way, under the way that you like it, is that where if you have a limited contact, you have to prove that it's insignificant can't or inconsequential.

SESSIONS: I think that may be a fair way to say it. And because the United States government can't send out 10,000 investigators to Syria and Egypt and South American to investigate these claims, we don't have the resources.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here is another example. A farmer who paid a toll to a terrorist group in order to cross a bridge and sell his food. Do you have any problem with that one? Is that aiding terrorists?

SESSIONS: I don't think so. And I don't think that would meet the standards of the statute even, unless they were in the same automobile and he paid the toll for the terrorist who was sitting by him in the car. Maybe that would raise eyebrows for sure.

VAN SUSTEREN: So in general, you want stiffer or more difficult requirements to get into the United States or maintain the status quo? The president wants to make it easier for people with limited contact.

SESSIONS: First, the president is required under his oath to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. He does not get to rewrite them. The law says, if you are connecting or giving material support --


SESSIONS: -- you can't fundamentally alter that. You can use the waiver provision in a case-by-case base.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you sir.

SESSIONS: Thank you.