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DHS to start tracking immigrants who exit the US

Posted by Administrator on March 7, 2012

The Department of Homeland  Security is finalizing its plan for a biometric data system to track when  immigrants leave the United  States and will present it to Congress within “weeks,” a top department  official told a House Homeland Security subcommittee Tuesday.

An exit system to track who is leaving the country  and when has been sought since before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. DHS  officials, including Secretary Janet  Napolitano, have agreed with the need for such a program but have previously  said it would be too costly.

John Cohen, the department’s deputy counter  terrorism coordinator, did not discuss the cost in his testimony about the  problem of immigrants who overstay visas. He said the department’s report to  Congress will explain how DHS plans to better determine who has overstayed their  visa.

The criminal case against Amine El Khalifi, 29, of  Alexandria, Va., accused in an alleged bomb plot against the U.S. Capitol, has  renewed the debate about how the U.S. government — a decade after the terror  attacks of 2001 — routinely fails to track millions of foreign visitors who  remain in the country longer than they are allowed. El Khalifi was arrested in a  parking lot, wearing what he thought was an explosive-laden suicide vest. He had  been living illegally in the United States for 12 years.

The Obama administration doesn’t consider deporting  people whose only offense is overstaying a visa a priority. It has focused  immigration enforcement efforts on people who have committed serious crimes or  are considered a threat to public or national security.

Cohen said improvements in how data from immigrants  is collected and stored has made it easier for law enforcement to identify visa  overstays and determine if they pose a threat to national security or public  safety.

Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., who led Tuesday’s  hearing, said El Khalifi “follows a long line of terrorists, including several  of the 9/11 hijackers, who overstayed their visa and went on to conduct terror  attacks.” His tourist visa expired the same year he arrived from his native Morocco as a  teenager in 1999.

She said 36 people who overstayed visas have been  convicted of terrorism related charges since 2001.

“We have to recognize that we do have this problem,”  Miller said. “The truth is, in the 40 percentile of all the illegal (immigrants)  are in this country on expired visas. They came in right through the front  door.”

El Khalifi, who is charged with attempting to use a  weapon of mass destruction, never came to the attention of federal law  enforcement agencies even after a series of minor run-ins with police in  northern Virginia from 2002 to 2006, including disobeying a traffic sign and  speeding. Programs that could have identified him if he had been jailed by local  authorities, including the Security Communities program that shares fingerprints  from local jails with the FBI,  were not in place at the time.

The Moroccan national didn’t face a felony charge —  possession of marijuana with intent to distribute — until last September, about  nine months after he became the target of the FBI probe related to the alleged  plot to destroy the Capitol. He has waived his right to a preliminary  hearing.

El Khalifi, unemployed when he was arrested last  month, is one of an estimated millions of illegal immigrants who came to the  United States with a government-issued visa and never left. He never applied to  become a U.S. citizen.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency  responsible for deporting illegal immigrants, has routinely combed through visa  records to try to identify people who have overstayed their welcome and deport  those considered threats to the community or national security.

Cohen said Tuesday that more than 37,000 people who  overstayed visas were deported from 2009 to 2011

Last year, ICE reviewed a backlog of about 1.6  million suspected overstay cases involving people who had come to the U.S. since  2004. The Homeland Security Department said the review concluded that about half  of those people have either left the country or applied to change their  immigration status. Of the remaining half, the cases of about 2,700 people were  given further review. ICE officials have not said how many of those people were  deemed a national security threat or were otherwise considered priority for  deportation.

For the more than 797,000 others whose cases were  not reviewed further, DHS officials said their overstay status was noted in  electronic files in case any of them commit crimes in the future or otherwise  become a priority to be deported.

Visa overstays have long been a concern of lawmakers  and law enforcement. Some estimates suggest that as many as half of the  country’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants have overstayed visas.

But finding illegal immigrants who, like El Khalifi,  came to the United States before biometric data was collected and records were  computerized around 2004 — and who overstayed visas but haven’t committed a  crime — can be difficult, if not impossible.

“It’s very difficult to find those individuals, and  those individuals aren’t priorities until they commit a crime,” said Julie Myers  Wood, who was head of ICE from 2006 to 2008.

James Ziglar, who was head of the old Immigration  and Naturalization Service from 2001 until it was folded into DHS in 2002, said  immigration authorities made efforts to locate immigrants thought to be a threat  to national security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But simply having  overstayed a visa wouldn’t have made illegal immigrants like El Khalifi a  priority.

“We were certainly focused on trying to find bad  people and connecting the dots with the Department of State and their visa  records,” Ziglar said. “I doubt very seriously he (El Khalifi) would have come  up on the radar. He might have if you kept drilling down further and further  just because of where he was from. But he would not have been, I think, an  earlier target, just because there were more suspicious types.”

Read more:  FOX NEWS

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2 Responses to “DHS to start tracking immigrants who exit the US”

  1. ITHAVETHI said

    Kwa mujibu wa habari tunazozipata kutoka kwa Benki Kuu Ya Kenya, kiasi cha takribani shillingi billioni sabini zilitumwa na Wakenya waishio ughaibuni. Na hao ni wakaazi wa kutoka nchi mmoja tu, ikilinganishwa na mamillioni ya wahamiaji wengine wa kutoka nchi mbalimbali za dunia ambao wanatuma kiasi kikubwa cha madola katika nchi walizotoka.

    Ukweli ni kwamba mataifa ya magharibi yameguduwa kwamba, tangu uchumi wao ulipoanza kuzorota, usafiri wa wahamiaji kuelekea nchi walizotoka umewaacha wakijiuliza maswali mengi. Pia wahasibu katika Benki Kuu zao zimeshawapa takwimu ya mabillioni ya madola ambayo yanatumwa na wahahaiaji hawa kupitia kwa mabenki, Moneygram, Western Union, M_pesa na makampuni mengineo ya kutuma pesa.

    Sikwamba sera hii inawahusu maharamia walio na nia ya kuwadhuru. La hasha! Ni kwamba wahamiaji wanatumia mapato wayapatayo kuendeleza nchi walizotoka badala ya kuzitumia nchi waishio kununua magari, nyumba, na mahitaji yao mengine ambayo huziwezesha kuwapa watu wao huduma za kijamii.

    “Mgeni siku ya kwanza,………” Hii ni kati ya njia moja ambayo tunakumbushwa kwamba, kamwe hawatuhitaji tena hapa. Hebu fanya hesabu yako. Kama kuna zaidi ya wahamiaji millioni kui na wawili wawili wasio na makaratasi, na hapo hapo kuna WAMERIKANI millioni kumi na tano wasio na kazi …………..? ” lisemwalo lipo na kama halipo lingoje linakuja.” Jiendeleze mwenzangu usije ukawa takwimu.

  2. ITHAVETHI said

    Kwa mujibu wa habari tunazozipata kutoka kwa Benki Kuu Ya Kenya, kiasi cha takribani shillingi billioni sabini zilitumwa na Wakenya waishio ughaibuni. Na hao ni wakaazi wa kutoka nchi mmoja tu, ikilinganishwa na mamillioni ya wahamiaji wengine wa kutoka nchi mbalimbali za dunia ambao wanatuma kiasi kikubwa cha madola katika nchi walizotoka.

    Ukweli ni kwamba mataifa ya magharibi yameguduwa kwamba, tangu uchumi wao ulipoanza kuzorota, usafiri wa wahamiaji kuelekea nchi walizotoka umewaacha wakijiuliza maswali mengi. Pia wahasibu katika Benki Kuu zao zimeshawapa takwimu ya mabillioni ya madola ambayo yanatumwa na wahahaiaji hawa kupitia kwa mabenki, Moneygram, Western Union, M_pesa na makampuni mengineo ya kutuma pesa.

    Jiulize tu swali hili moja: mbona wanawalenga hata wale walio hapa kihalali? Sikwamba sera hio inawahusu maharamia walio na nia ya kuwadhuru. La hasha! Ni kwamba wahamiaji wanatumia mapato wayapatayo kuendeleza nchi walizotoka badala ya kuzitumia nchi waishio kununua vitu kama magari, nyumba, na mahitaji yao mengine ambayo huziwezesha serikali kuu na zile za majimbo kuwapa watu wao huduma za kijamii.

    “Mgeni siku ya kwanza,……. mgeni siku ya pili………” Hii ni kati ya njia moja ambayo tunakumbushwa kwamba, kamwe hawatuhitaji tena hapa. Hebu fanya hesabu yako. Kama kuna zaidi ya wahamiaji millioni kui na wawili wawili wasio na makaratasi, na hapo hapo kuna WAMERIKANI millioni kumi na tano wasio na kazi …………..? ” lisemwalo lipo na kama halipo lingoje linakuja.” Jiendeleze kimaendeleo mwenzangu usije ukawa takwimu filimbi itakapopigwa.

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