USCIS Refugee Affairs Chief Unaware Boston Marathon Bombers Were Refugees

Photo credit: CSPAN

Photo credit: CSPAN

As Chief of the Refugee Affairs Division within the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Barbara Strack oversees arguably the most important part of the refugee resettlement process—ensuring that refugees who present a risk to the safety and security of our country are not admitted. However, while testifying at an Oct. 1 Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest oversight hearing on the Obama Administration’s planned refugee resettlement surge, Strack revealed that she was unaware that the Boston Marathon bombers were refugees from Islamic extremist stronghold Chechnya.

Focusing on the security implications of the administration’s resettlement program, Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) asked Strack whether the Boston marathon bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, came to the U.S. as refugees. “They did not, sir” answered Strack. A puzzled Sen. Sessions then pressed by asking how they did come to the U.S., to which she responded, “I will have to check with my colleagues, but that—they were not refugees.”

Needless to say, the Tsarnaev brothers were brought to the United States by their parents in 2002 as refugees from the volatile Chechnyan region of Russia. Dzhokhar naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 2012 and Tamerlan was denied citizenship around the same time after a prolonged visit to the Dagestan region in Russia, where he became increasingly drawn to radical Islam. The following year, the brothers set off two explosive devices near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 130. They subsequently shot and killed an MIT police officer sitting in his car, carjacked a vehicle, and engaged in a shootout with police that lead to the death of Tamerlan. Dzhokhar was eventually apprehended and tried for the terrorist acts and is currently on death row.

While the Tsarnaevs were not the first Islamic extremists to abuse our asylum and refugee system, they provide a recent cautionary tale for our government—one that should be studied extensively and serve as a cause for concern when addressing the current migration crisis. However, as illustrated in the hearing, our leaders and policymakers are oblivious, uninformed, and politically motivated. By continuing to demand that Americans acquiesce to some 200,000 refugees over the next two years, including thousands from Islamic extremist hot spots like Syria, the Obama Administration has shown that the security of the American people is a secondary consideration.


avatar About RJ Hauman

RJ Hauman joined FAIR in 2015, bringing valuable legislative, regulatory, and political experience to the Government Relations department. He is responsible for reviewing and analyzing legislation and regulations, as well as building and maintaining relationships with Capitol Hill staff. During his time on Capitol Hill, RJ gained immigration policy experience as an aide to former Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA), who chaired the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. RJ holds a B.A. in Political Science from Clemson University.


  1. avatar Barbara Griffith says:

    Everyone on this blog needs to take a long hard look at the article that was sent to me from

    What is going on in Germany is is what will happen here in what ever city or town the refugees are sent to. These refugees as Obama refers to them are taking over the towns in Germany robbing, raping the citizens, breaking into homes and stealing in stores. The police are overrun but are still bowing to the god of political correctness. I know one thing no city or town in the US will allow any refugee to get away with what is going on in the EU or they will be shot. The police will not go into areas alone at all because the gangs of so called refugees that surround their police cars. If Germany has a military they need to use them to put a stop to this.

  2. avatar SecBorders says:

    So Americans fight and die to defend us from being attacked by terrorists, and then our government turns around and brings in people at high risk of carrying out an attack against us. Bush brought in the Tsarnaevs, and Obama is continuing the insanity. Given the incompetence and stupidity of our government, we are lucky a lot more Americans haven’t already been killed in terrorist attacks.

    • avatar SecBorders says:

      One more comment. The left has a history of using “the children” as props in order to pull on people’s heart strings in order to guilt trip them into supporting their agenda, whether amnesty for illegals, Obamacare or now refugees from the Middle East, because what decent person could possibly be against “the children”?

      Well, I know at a minimum there was at least one American child killed and at least one young girl had a leg blown off by the “refugees” who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing, so why don’t we bring their pictures out and remember the American citizen children victims of “refugee” terrorists as well as the other Americans killed and wounded in the Boston Marathon bombing. Their pictures are on the major news websites. Why isn’t our media focusing on protecting American citizens, and remembering all the dead and wounded Americans killed in terrorist attacks? And some of these helpless Middle Eastern refugee children could grow up one day to be terrorists.

  3. avatar No Change says:

    Great article….in such a complex issue. Perhaps, the critical point here is that nothing was learned and not being proactive appears to be visible in the new processes for refugees……………

  4. As Airport Searches Get More Vicious

    The open borders opportunitists never blame the foreign invasion for the root cause.

  5. avatar Leland says:

    The problem with many of these “refugees” is that they are simply on the losing side of a conflict. That in and of itself does not make them nice people.

    A group is organizing a boycott against Disney because of their layoffs of American tech workers while bringing in cheaper paid foreigners on visas. Disney just this week announced price increases at their parks, the second this year, and also raised parking prices.

    • avatar No Change says:

      Leland your statement
      “The problem with many of these “refugees” is that they are simply on the losing side of a conflict. That in and of itself does not make them nice people.”
      is completely inaccurate…… you are again GENERALIZING……no good…….

      • avatar No Change says:

        actually you are correct…my mistake….BUT iI must agree with your comment..they are terrible people not just not nice……..

        • avatar Leland says:

          I never said they were all terrible people. That was you that just said that. I said the fact that they are refugees “in and of itself does not make them nice people”.

  6. avatar Kyle says:

    Talk about utter incompetence, a glaring example of nearly everyone in the administration of the most inept president in the HISTORY of our nation, HANDS DOWN!

    • avatar No Change says:

      Kyle why are so un-American and close-minded……our reality is not solely on President Obama….it was inherited and Congress’ actions and your vote. We are all accounatble……….

  7. avatar Concerned Citizen says:

    The security of the American people is not even a secondary consideration in this administration. It’s an afterthought.

    • avatar No Change says:

      well……..if they get a different and better healthcare than we do and a salary for life……….yet they don’t make sure we get the same………………what does that tell us? do they care? or we should run for office and get it and do the same? or do it for the rest? I don’t know who cares………….