As many as 3,000 Syrian refugees may qualify for asylum in the United States even if they have provided support to terrorists, Politico reports.
That's because the Obama administration filed two exemptions to immigration laws that won't automatically reject applicants "who provided 'insignificant' or 'limited' material support for terror groups, the report says.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokeswoman defined that as "insignificant in amount or provided incidentally in the course of everyday social, commercial, family or humanitarian interactions, or under significant pressure."
She offered hypotheticals involving support for relatives who were part of terrorist groups or business owners who serve militants.
The change should not affect people considered to be a threat, a DHS official told Fox News.
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., called the move "deeply alarming."
"We need to tighten security standards for asylum, not relax them even further," Sessions said.
But the move drew praise as "much needed – and long-awaited" – from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. The existing policy spits out "deserving refugees ... for actions so tangential and minimal that no rational person would consider them supporters of terrorist activities."
But Sessions also took issue with the way the policy was enacted – without consultation with Congress and announced with a notice in the Federal Register.
"This action endangers our national security and defies duly-enacted law." he said. "This and other administrative actions bypassing Congress and plain law must end."