On Tuesday, January 16, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report revealing details of those convicted of terrorism, those deported over security threats as well as terror watch list subjects attempting entry to the U.S.
The report reveals that 73 percent of individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016 were foreign-born.
Breaking down the 549 individuals by citizenship status at the time of their convictions indicates: 254 were not U.S. citizens; 148 were foreign-born, naturalized and received U.S. citizenship; and,147 were citizens by birth (due to a parent’s citizenship) though they were born outside the U.S.
Additionally, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, a component of DHS charged with enforcing American immigration laws within the country, has removed an additional 1,716 aliens over “national security concerns” since September 11, 2001, as indicated by the report.
Lastly, the report details the latest numbers available for fiscal year 2017 alone with regard to the terrorism watchlist, “DHS encountered 2,554 individuals on the terrorist watchlist (also known as the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database) traveling to the United States,” noted DHS and DOJ.
“Of those individuals, 335 were attempting to enter by land, 2,170 were attempting to enter by air, and 49 were attempting to enter by sea,” the departments added. “Where consistent with the law, such individuals are denied entry into the United States, while in some cases law enforcement authorities are notified and can take appropriate action.”
In reaction to the report, a statement released by Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, reveals, “My top priority as Secretary of Homeland Security is to ensure the safety and security of the American people. This report is a clear reminder of why we cannot continue to rely on immigration policy based on pre-9/11 thinking that leaves us woefully vulnerable to foreign-born terrorists, and why we must examine our visa laws and continue to intensify screening and vetting of individuals traveling to the United States to prevent terrorists, criminals, and other dangerous individuals from reaching our country. Without legislative change DHS will continue to see thousands of terrorists a year attempt to enter the United States, and while we must be right every time, the terrorists only need to be lucky once. Therefore, DHS has personnel deployed around the world and along our borders working with our global and domestic law enforcement partners to stop terrorists before they enter the homeland.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions echoed the sentiments of Nielsen, but went further expressing concern over the number of active terrorism investigations across the U.S., “This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality—our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety. And the information in this report is only the tip of the iceberg: we currently have terrorism-related investigations against thousands of people in the United States, including hundreds of people who came here as refugees. Our law enforcement professionals do amazing work, but it is simply not reasonable to keep asking them to risk their lives to enforce the law while we admit thousands every year without sufficient knowledge about their backgrounds.”