Keeping the bad guys out 

There is a worrisome consensus growing behind the recent furor over the Senate "grand compromise" immigration reform bill. Grass-roots Americans think the federal agency that’s supposed to be protecting their families isn’t doing its job in a key sector of the war on terrorism. Now, there are cold, hard statistics to bolster the consensus.

One of the main missions of the Department of Homeland Security — established in 2003 as a direct response to 9/11 — is to locate and prosecute terrorists and dangerous criminals who have entered the United States, legally or illegally.

However, a recent report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University discovered a "declining long-term trend" in the prosecution of immigrants on terrorism and national security grounds. "The incidents of 9/11/2001 and the creation of DHS appear to have little discernable impact on these trends," the report noted. It seems that the federal government actually did a better job getting rid of the bad guys before DHS came along.

After analyzing close to 4 million records obtained from the Immigration Courts and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys under the Freedom of Information Act, TRAC researchers found that in the last three years, just 12 individuals were charged with terrorism or terrorism-related activities — out of a total of 814,073 facing immigration charges. Of that same number, only 114 were charged with national security violations.

"More individuals were charged each year in Immigration Courts during the nineties for national security and terrorism than has occurred annually since 9/11/2001," the TRAC report added, with national security charges down one-third and terrorism charges down more than three-fourths. And despite a rising volume of deportation cases on lesser charges, there are "consistently declining percentages" for aggravated felonies and other serious crimes as well.

This means that we are jailing or deporting fewer foreign criminals and terrorists now than we did in the early ’90s — before most of the public had even heard of Osama bin Laden. The final stat says it all: only 37 of these extremely high-risk individuals were physically removed from the United States between 2004 and 2006. No wonder nobody believes the feds when they claim to make terrorism prevention their No. 1 priority.

A group of eight senators led by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., this week urged President George W. Bush to enforce key benchmarks of the defunct-for-now immigration compromise bill now, regardless of its ultimate disposition. That should include sending 18,000 additional Border Patrol agents to our southern border and erecting physical barriers already required under The Secure Fence Act. With such a poor track record of ejecting undesirable aliens, keeping them out in the first place has become the only realistic alternative.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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