Thousands of illegal immigrants, including 698 potential terrorists, have used a policy loophole to enter the United States and win temporary residency status, giving them the right to get a job and likely stay indefinitely, according to a new report.

Unlike the typical path followed by illegals and refugees, those cited in a new Center for Immigration Studies report claimed "credible fear" of persecution back home, speeding them to the front of the immigration line where they received scant vetting and avoided rules barring terrorist suspects.

"Information disclosed to Congress indicates that 299 aliens to whom the terrorism bar to asylum eligibility may apply were found to have a credible fear in the first four months of FY 2015, and that 399 aliens to whom the terrorism bar to asylum eligibility may apply were found to have a credible fear in FY 2014," said the report written by former immigration judge Andrew R. Arthur.

"While the nature and circumstances of those terrorism allegations are not clear, these facts," he added, "raise additional concerns that other individuals who have connections to terrorist activity or organizations have attempted to seek asylum through the credible-fear process."

The report from Arthur, a long-time Immigration and Naturalization Service attorney, draws attention to fraud in the system that lets immigrants claim "credible fear" to avoid domestic and international vetting and terrorism screening.

Many come from countries that harbor terrorist camps, he wrote:

"While the bulk of the credible fear claims nationally between October 2014 and September 2015 were made by aliens from Central America and Mexico, 80 were made by Syrian nationals, 191 by Pakistani nationals, and 776 by Somali nationals. Many of the aliens who have come to the United States from outside the Western Hemisphere followed identified smuggling routes from South America."

He also points out the lack of immigration judges and even jails, a situation that results in illegals being released into the nation.

From his the report:

"The immigration courts, which receive aliens' claims after they have been found to have a credible fear, face similar resource limitations. As of February 2017, there were 542,411 cases pending before 302 immigration judges, or just less than 1,800 cases per judge. Each judge, however, has just about six hours per week to prepare for the week's docket; the rest of the time is spent on the bench hearing cases. Given the fact that each judge could be assigned eight or more asylum cases (any one of which could have hundreds of pages of background evidence) each week, the ability for any given judge to have full familiarity with any given case is limited. This problem is compounded by the fact that many claims, particularly claims from the same country, can have similar facts."

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at