APRIL 16, 2008
While the illegal immigration crisis has focused on the southern border the fact remains that, like many of the September 11 terrorists, nearly half of the nation’s illegal aliens entered the U.S. legally and have overstayed their visas undetected.
This crucial national security problem is the result of the federal government’s inability to implement an important program that tracks when foreign nationals leave the country, despite wasting more than $2.2 billion on flawed technology that the Department of Homeland Security has gambled on to protect the nation.
U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology (US VISIT) is supposed to track the arrival and departure of foreign visitors but a series of technical problems has prevented it from documenting the exits and many foreigners simply remain in the country illegally. The multi billion-dollar program’s failure has been well documented and was the subject of a lengthy report published recently by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
The government’s inability to assure that foreign nationals leave when they are supposed to has created a potentially serious national security threat that has allowed millions of undocumented aliens to live secretly in the U.S., just as many of the 9/11 hijackers did while planning their attack.
A recent study says that up to 45% of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. have overstayed their visas, many from Europe and Asia. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say that nearly 600,000 illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. have ignored deportation orders.
Fortunately deportations of such individuals have risen steadily, from 116,202 in 2001 to 240,779 in 2007. The figure doesn’t include the number of illegal aliens caught at the Mexican or Canadian borders. This proves that immigration is not just a Latino issue, according to the head of an Illinois Polish advocacy group that has seen several countrymen deported recently.
Federal authorities attribute the increase in deportations to help from local police departments that arrest illegal aliens on unrelated offenses and turn them in. After the 2001 terrorist attacks the government called on local law enforcement agencies to assist with the illegal immigration crisis and many have stepped up to the plate although some still refuse. Among them are the Los Angeles, Chicago and District of Columbia police departments which forbid officers from inquiring about suspect’s immigration status.
Not only is this illegal, as Judicial Watch has pointed out in actions against these agencies, it risks American lives by allowing violent criminals who should have been deported to remain in the country and further victimize citizens. Examples include cop killers, rapists, child molesters and drunken drivers that killed innocent families on U.S. highways.
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