By Tom Fitton
The widespread failure to enforce our immigration laws is a dire threat to the public safety. Consider this from our Corruption Chronicles blog.
At least four of the September 11 hijackers were in the United States with expired visas and all these years later the government still hasn’t found a way to track visa over stayers. A few years ago, Judicial Watch obtained Department of Homeland Security (DHS) figures showing that 527,127 foreigners with expired visas remained in the country. Thousands are from terrorist nations like Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria. Here’s the breakdown as per the DHS stats provided four years ago: 1,435 from Pakistan, 681 from Iraq, 564 from Iran, 440 from Syria, 219 from Yemen, 219 from Afghanistan and 56 from Libya.
After the 9/11 attacks Congress created a system to track the entry and exit of foreign nationals by using electronically scanned fingerprints and photographs. Five years and $1 billion later, the system, U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology (US VISIT), still had serious flaws. Two years after that boondoggle was exposed the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), published a report that said nearly half of the nation’s illegal aliens entered the U.S. legally and overstayed their visas undetected. In the years that followed the government did little to improve what has developed into a dire national security disaster. In 2011 yet another federal audit confirmed that the U.S. had lost track of millions who overstayed their visas and two years later the crisis intensified when DHS lost track of 266 dangerous foreigners with expired visas. The government determined that they “could pose a national security or public safety concerns,” according to the director of Homeland Security and Justice at the GAO.
Now, nearly 20 years after the worst terrorist attack on American soil, the government still cannot close this critical security loophole. The latest figures, released this month by the GAO, reveal that about 52.7 million nonimmigrant admissions to the U.S. through air or sea ports of entry were supposed to depart in fiscal year 2017. DHS reported 702,000 overstays, according to congressional investigators. Part of the problem is that DHS relies on third-party departure data. This includes commercial carrier passenger manifests. In other words, the government is depending on airlines and cruise ships to help it enforce visa violations. This occurs through a system that supposedly provides biographic data, including name and passport number. This next line may sound like a joke, but it comes right out of the GAO report: “Carriers are subject to fines for missing or inaccurate data.” In the document DHS confirms that “identifying overstays is important for national security, public safety, and immigration enforcement.”
Years ago the GAO estimated that nearly half of the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants actually entered the U.S. legally but overstayed their visa. Some represent huge national security threats. For instance, a Jordanian who tried to blow up a Texas high rise overstayed his visa undetected by federal authorities. The Jordanian (Hosam Maher Husein Smadi), who vowed jihad against Americans and tried to blow up a Dallas skyscraper, remained undetected in the U.S after his tourist visa expired.
The Portuguese man charged with the recent murder of a 24-year-old woman was supposed to leave the U.S. in 2017. Authorities had no clue he never left until he committed an atrocious crime. The woman he murdered, Valerie Reyes, was reported missing in late January. A week later her body was found bound at the hands and feet in a suitcase off a road in Greenwich, an upscale town of about 61,000. It’s worth noting that the entire state of Connecticut is an illegal immigrant sanctuary. Back in 2013 the state enacted a measure prohibiting local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities by, among other things, ignoring federal detainers for illegal aliens arrested after committing certain crimes.
It’s one thing for our inept government to find imaginative ways to waste our money, but failing to execute its security duties is a new low.