Denaturalizing The Odious Rasmieh Yousef Odeh

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On August 18, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Palestinian terrorist Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, who procured both her admission to the United States, and her U.S. citizenship, by fraud had been denaturalized and will be deported. This announcement marked the end of a lengthy legal battle to rid the United States of a vicious murderer who should never have been given access to our shores.

In 1969, Odeh, was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an anti-Israel terrorist group. Acting on behalf of the PFLP, Odeh detonated a bomb in a Jerusalem grocery store, killing two Israeli college students and wounding nine other innocent shoppers. Several days later, she also triggered an explosion at the British Consulate in Jerusalem. Miraculously, no one was killed but the building was heavily damaged.

Subsequently, Ms. Odeh was convicted of murder, and other charges, by an Israeli court and sentenced to life imprisonment. Thereafter, she attempted to escape from prison but was apprehended. Despite her escape attempt, she was  released by the Israeli government as part of a 1979 prisoner exchange. She then took up residence in Jordan. In 1994, Odeh lied about her convictions in order to obtain a green card. In 2004, she again lied about her convictions in order to obtain U.S. citizenship. Had she disclosed her criminal record, she would never have been allowed into the United States, much less granted citizenship.

When immigration authorities became aware of Odeh’s terrorist past, they charged her with immigration fraud and sought her denaturalization. After a series of technical court rulings and appeals, she finally pleaded guilty to procuring naturalization unlawfully. Although, her plea deal appears to have been calculated to avoid prison time.

Odeh’s case demonstrates the importance of accurate, thorough vetting. She was able to circumvent our immigration security procedures at least three times: when applying for an immigrant visa, when entering the United States as a Lawful Permanent Resident, and when applying for citizenship. The ease with which Ms. Odeh was able to mislead immigration authorities is shocking. She simply lied to get what she wanted and only appears to have been caught by accident. The system set up to protect both the American public and the value of American citizenship should be much more effective – and much more difficult to short-circuit.

Denaturalization is an important tool. It ensures that foreign criminals, terrorists, and human rights abusers can’t use U.S. citizenship as a shield against the consequences of vile acts in their past. But it makes much more sense to simply deny admission to bad actors than it does to spend millions of taxpayer dollars trying to strip them of American citizenship they never should have had in the first place. The Trump administration understands just how important vetting is to our national security and public safety. Let’s hope Congress rapidly follows suit. The hard working men and women of the Departments of State and Homeland Security need the tools necessary to keep out odious foreign terrorists, like Rasmieh Odieh.

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About Author

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Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats.He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.

5 Comments

  1. avatar

    Honestly, she should NOT be deported, but sent to Ft. Leavenworth and be treated as a spy for islamic terrorists. While there, she can be interrogated over and over again for any and all information.
    If Leavenworth isn’t allowed, then to one of the toughest military prisons outside of the US. No special treatment for her being a muslim. Only punishing treatment for being a terrorist and a spy.

  2. avatar

    Realistic, because all Islamists are taught to lie to non-Islamists, I question what ever any any of them say. Obamer and the democraps have allowed so many into this country whose end goal is our American demise, I say round them up, revoke their citizenship and ship them back to the sand box before they start craping in the streets. Use ME air planes and crew as they will destroy other flag carriers. I cannot think of any goo reason for them to be here or Europe.

  3. avatar

    Deport her to Israel who can then have her serve the rest of her murder sentence. She was released from there, but not pardoned.
    They can keep her incognito until she dies.

  4. avatar

    Shows you how reliable “vetting” actually is. Here is someone convicted of murder, spent years in prison, and she simply lies about her record and it’s accepted. And we are supposed to believe that we can vet people coming from countries where it is virtually impossible to obtain accurate records. The claim is always that they are thoroughly vetted because they spent years in some overseas camp. That means nothing more than they waited, not that they were adequately checked.