266 potentially dangerous immigrants who have overstayed their visas cannot be located by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to the Government Accountability Office (GOA).
Well, isn’t that comforting…
Rebecca Gambler, the director of the Homeland Security and Justice for GOA, testified before the House Subcommittee on May 21. According her her, 1,901 illegal overstays had been identified by DHS in 2011. These overstays were prioritized by DHS for further investigation because “the subjects of the records could pose national security or public safety concerns.”
Of those 1,901, nine have been arrested and 266 still cannot be located. 481 of the cases were given to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations division, because they presented “potential public safety threats”.
Visa overstays can be a significant national security threat. For example, one-forth of the terrorists who carried out 9/11 had overstayed their visas. “Overstays could pose homeland security concerns—for example, 5 of the 19 September 11, 2001, hijackers were overstays,” said Gambler. Other examples: Hosam Smadi plotted to blow up a Dallas skyscraper in 2009, and Amine El Khalifi plotted to bomb the US Capitol building last year — both men were living past their visas.
Most of the current illegal immigrants who are here with expired visas want to stay in the US because of economic opportunities. But this is not an excuse to break our laws.
Gambler’s testimony also revealed that there are currently more than 1 million “unmatched arrival records” in the DHS’s Arrival and Departure Information System (ADIS), or potential cases where immigrants have remained in the country with expired visas.
The DHS has failed to report visa overstays to Congress, as required by law. Their excuse? A lack of “confidence in the quality of its overstay data”. Janet Napolitano said that the DHS will report on overstay rates by December 2013.
Good grief, can the Department of Homeland Security do anything right?
Written by Kristin Tate.
Follow Kristin on Twitter @KristinBTate.