Eric Ruark's picture


  by  Eric Ruark

At NumbersUSA we take national security very seriously. The reason we don’t spend a lot of time writing about terrorism and the criminal threat associated with our failed immigration system is two-fold. First, most foreigners who come to the United States, either legally or illegally, are not terrorists and are not intent on committing violent crimes against people in this country. This is not to discount the potential of terrorists entering the United States, or the very real problem of crimes committed by immigrants.

Second, most foreigners who come to the United States, either legally or illegally, seek employment, or they come with a family member who is seeking work here. The United States in effect issues one million lifetime work permits a year to immigrants, and this number does not include guest workers and illegal aliens. Immigration has the most pronounced effect on the U.S. labor market, with employment prospects and wages for American workers suffering under the current system. Mass immigration also puts tremendous strains on our nation’s infrastructure, social services, and natural resources.

However, there are noteworthy issues directly related to immigration policies and practices that may not get the deserved attention if NumbersUSA does not shine the spotlight on them. One such item is a recent report by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG) which found “ICE’s Screening Protocol of Aliens Who May Be Known or Suspected Terrorists is Limited and Risks National Security.”

According to the OIG:

Auditors sampled 40 of 142 ERO case files of detained aliens identified as known or suspected terrorists during fiscal years 2013 through 2015. They reviewed the cases to test ERO’s implementation of KSTEP and found instances of noncompliance in all 40 cases. ERO failed to follow procedures from running initial checks to fully documenting its actions. DHS OIG attributes some instances of noncompliance to limited program oversight and weak management controls.

KSTEP is the Known or Suspected Terrorist Encounter Protocol established by ICE to coordinate information sharing among law enforcement and intelligence agencies to “streamline the screening protocol of all aliens” in order to identify known or suspected terrorists. The OIG found that in all the cases it sampled, protocols established to identify known or suspected were not followed by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

The DHS OIG found several reasons for these failure:

…some ERO offices do not have access to DHS classified networks which are imperative to communicate derogatory information related to known or suspected terrorists. To collect pertinent information on known or suspected terrorists, ERO agents are forced to inconveniently travel to gain access, sometimes hours away. Some ERO field offices do not any access, which limits and can jeopardize custody decisions. Additionally, some local law enforcement agencies declined to cooperate with ICE, preventing Homeland Security from screening other criminal aliens. [emphasis added]

The DHS OIG made four recommendations to rectify the situation:

  1. Requiring periodic KSTEP screening of all aliens under supervision of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO);
  2. Ensure all ERO offices have the equipment and protocols necessary to establish an effective communications network;
  3. Better allocate resources to ensure sufficient ERO officers are available;
  4. Strengthen the quality of management and oversight within ERO.

“ICE concurred with all four recommendations.”

The argument we have heard for years is that the threat of terrorists entering the United States is negligible, despite much evidence to the contrary, because there are “rigorous” vetting procedures already in place, particularly for refugees. The NumbersUSA response had been that the vetting described as “rigorous” has been shown to be inadequate, particularly when it comes to screening nationals from countries where reliable information about those individuals is unavailable to U.S. immigration officers. That presents a dangerous situation in which known or potential terrorists can, and have, entered the United States. The DHS OIG report reveals an even more troubling reality: there is a systematic failure within ICE even to utilize the vetting processes available to identify individuals who may carry out acts of terrorism in the United States.

Read the LifeZette story on the DHS OIG report here.

ERIC RUARK is the Director of Research for NumbersUSA

Updated: Fri, Jan 26th 2018 @ 11:15am EST

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