FBI Risks Public Safety By Losing Track of Foreign Criminal Informants It Brings Into U.S.
Dozens of foreign nationals with shady backgrounds have vanished from the FBI’s radar after the agency brought them to the U.S. to help with investigations. You can’t make this stuff up. The nation’s premier and “intelligence-driven” law enforcement agency can’t keep track of its own informants, who would otherwise not be eligible to enter the country because of their “association with criminal enterprises,” according to a federal audit released this month by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General. Keep in mind that the FBI claims to be one of the world’s premier security and crime-fighting forces and its mission is to protect the American people.
Under a special program, DOJ agencies such as the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) can legally bring banned foreign nationals into the U.S. for law enforcement purposes. Various immigration tools are utilized in the process, including Significant Public Benefit Parole (SPBP), Deferred Action and S Visa. The foreigners often serve as confidential informants and witnesses in legal proceedings. To sponsor such a candidate, the agencies must request authorization from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to approve temporary legal residence. This requires the sponsoring law enforcement agency to certify that it assumes responsibility for the control and legal status of the foreign national, including monitoring the location and activities of the individual and ensuring notification to DHS upon sponsorship termination. That’s where the FBI drops the ball, loses track of the alien and fails to inform the agency created after 9/11 to keep America safe.
The audit reveals that in February 2018, DHS identified more than 1,000 DOJ-sponsored foreign nationals for whom DHS did not have current information. As of August 2018, DHS was still seeking information regarding 665 sponsorships. “In addition, during our audit, we identified a total of 62 sponsored foreign nationals who had absconded from DOJ control,” the agency watchdog report states. During the probe the FBI indicated to the inspector general that it lost track of 54 sponsored foreign nationals, but investigators found the others after digging around agency files. “We also found that the DEA and FBI systems could not be fully relied upon to track information for use in managing sponsorship expirations,” the report says. “For example, we identified records in the FBI’s system for which dates associated with various levels of application approval were either missing, out of sequence, or illogical. This indicates that the FBI’s system does not have sufficient data entry controls to ensure that records are recorded accurately.”
Incredibly, federal agencies repeatedly violate the program’s rules by failing to report to DHS when a foreign national has absconded or if the component no longer has a law enforcement use for the individual and the sponsorship should be terminated. “The sponsor must immediately notify DHS of the event and then provide the individual’s last known location and other relevant information,” according to the rules. “Failing to report instances of absconsion inhibits DHS’s ability to execute its responsibilities to locate and handle absconders,” the DOJ IG writes. “This is especially problematic for law enforcement-sponsored foreign nationals because these individuals often have criminal histories or are involved with criminal organizations. In other words, we’re not talking about boy scouts blending into communities. The audit spells out the obvious: “There are risks associated with these individuals remaining in the United States unsupervised and the public can be at risk.” Investigators also stress that the programs should ensure that when a foreign national is sponsored to enter or remain in the United States to assist in investigative operations or prosecutions, he or she is accurately tracked as required.