Skip to comments.GAO: Terrorists Exploit U.S. Immigration System
Posted on 02/15/2002 5:46:25 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
Five months after 19 non-U.S. citizens used four hijacked jetliners to carry out the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil, the General Accounting Office has issued a report saying that terrorists and drug dealers routinely abuse the U.S. immigration system to facilitate their crimes.
"Immigration benefit fraud is a significant problem that threatens the integrity of the legal immigration system," according to the GAO report.
"INS officials believe that the problem is pervasive and serious; they also believe that some aliens are using the benefit application process to enable them to carry out illegal activities, such as crimes of violence, narcotics trafficking, and terrorism," the report stated.
Immigration benefit fraud involves attempts by aliens to obtain naturalization, work authorization, and/or adjustment of status through illegal means such as the use of fraudulent documents.
The report also detailed the failure of the INS to discover and eliminate fraud in the immigration benefits application process in the past.
Your Tax Dollars at Work
"Benefit fraud has been inconsistently investigated and INS resources are not used to their greatest effect," the report concluded. "Without improvements in its benefit fraud investigations, INS's ability to detect the number of ineligible aliens improperly applying for benefits will be hampered."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said the report points out the threats to homeland security inherent in the current structure of INS.
"Based on this report, I'm not confident that the INS isn't giving green cards to al-Qaeda operatives," Sensenbrenner said. "We have a complete failure by the INS to take the steps necessary to protect the people of the United States and the immigration system itself from criminals manipulating the benefits process."
Sensenbrenner believes the report proves what he has been saying for years; that there is an "urgent need for a comprehensive legislative restructuring of the INS."
Rep. George W. Gekas, R-Pa., chairman of the Judiciary Committee's Immigration and Claims Subcommittee, agreed.
"The INS has shown itself unable to focus its efforts to address fraud in the benefits process, and to utilize its resources effectively," Gekas said. "It is apparent that INS has failed in its responsibility to provide immigration benefits to those who are entitled to them and to deny them to those who are not."
GAO identified four major problems that it said contribute greatly to that failure:
INS's interior enforcement strategy does not specifically state how the investigative units at the districts and service centers are to coordinate their activities.
INS has not provided working-level guidance for its investigation units in the districts and service centers.
INS lacks an agency-wide case tracking and management capability to maintain important data on prior, current and future targets of benefit fraud investigations.
INS adjudicators do not have access to the data that they need to do their jobs.
Some key findings of the report included:
A 90 percent fraud rate was found in one review of a targeted group of 5,000 petitions. A follow-up analysis of approximately 1,500 petitions found that only one was not fraudulent.
Some adjudication officers have had to sneak over to the operations unit to discuss fraud-related issues because adjudication officers are discouraged from taking the time to discuss questionable cases with investigators.
Emphasis has been placed on timely processing of applications, allowing quality to suffer, contributing to the increase in benefit fraud.
Gekas and Sensenbrenner have co-sponsored legislation, the Immigration Reform and Accountability Act of 2001 (H.R. 3231), which seeks to address many of the problems highlighted in the GAO report by replacing the INS with separate bureaus to carry out the agency's two primary functions.
The proposal would supplant INS with the new "Agency for Immigration Affairs," which would be run by a new Associate Attorney General for Immigration Affairs. It would establish within the new agency both the "Bureau of Immigration Services and Adjudications," and the "Bureau of Immigration Enforcement."
The bill would also create a special office within the Agency for Immigration Affairs to monitor and assess the two new bureaus' success in balancing their roles and coordinating with one another. Sensenbrenner says the changes are necessary for the sakes of both fairness and safety.
"These benefits are valuable to the people who are patiently waiting for them," he concluded. "But we must not allow these benefits to provide a door into this country for those coming here to do us harm."
Owl _ Eagle
Guns before butter.
Regardless the INS ain't going nowhere.
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