U.S. immigration officials say they have a new tool to help police track down foreigners who went missing after being ordered deported. Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James Ziglar announced the measure in Washington Wednesday as part of agency efforts to fight international terrorism.
INS Commissioner Ziglar says his agency does not know where more than 314,000 foreigners ordered deported are because they disappeared while their final deportation papers were being issued. He says these deportees have avoided detection during incidents like routine traffic stops, because their names were not entered into the police forces' National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, database.
Mr. Ziglar told the House Judiciary Committee and a group of business leaders Wednesday the names of deportees will now appear in the NCIC database. "We are putting every one of those names in NCIC. And when we pick them up, they do not have any more due process rights," he says. "We take them and we get the travel documents for them and we're sending them home."
Commissioner Ziglar acknowledges his agency is straining under pressure since the September terror attacks, with half of INS investigators assigned to the terrorism probe.
A group that closely watches U.S. immigration policy cautiously welcomed the new INS initiative. John Keeley with the Center for Immigration Studies says most foreigners who stay in the country following deportation orders are not a threat to national security - but the inability to track them was a huge loophole exploited by terrorists.
Mr. Keeley says there are many other loopholes that are not being closed by Congress, and he called for a complete overhaul of the INS.