Jan 16, 2018 - Politics & Policy

Immigration security report fails to connect with Trump's key reforms

President Trump grimacing

Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

The departments of Homeland Security and Justice released a report today showing that three out of four people convicted of international terrorism-related offenses between September 11, 2001, and the end of 2016 were foreign-born.

What was missing: While the report's press release tied it to President Trump’s national security concerns on immigration reform, a senior administration official speaking in a background briefing failed to connect the foreign-born terrorism convictions with programs like the diversity visa lottery program and "chain migration." The official stated that DOJ and DHS did not yet have the details surrounding those individuals’ manner of entry into the U.S.

The senior administration official also could not provide information regarding the education or job skill level of those foreign-born individuals convicted of international terrorism-related offenses, calling it "an interesting issue to analyze in a future iteration."

  • That information would be a key component of the individuals' ability to enter the U.S. under Trump’s proposed merit-based immigration program.

The timing: The report was mandated under Trump's travel ban executive order, which required the release of this report within 180 days — with an updated iteration every 180 days thereafter. This should have placed its initial release in mid-September.

  • While a senior administration official stated that the late release was “an indication of the amount of work that had to go on” and "merely coincidental," it’s noteworthy that the Trump administration chose to put it out now at the height of the DACA debate.

By the numbers, from the report:

  • The big number from the report indicates that 549 people had been convicted of international terrorism-related offenses between September 11, 2001 and the end of 2016 — of whom, 148 were foreign-born naturalized U.S. citizens and 254 were not U.S. citizens.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement has removed 1,716 aliens with national security concerns since September 11, 2001.
  • 2,554 people on the terrorist watchlist attempted to enter the U.S. in 2017.
  • From 2010 to 2016, Customs and Border Protection prevented 73,261 foreign travels who might have presented an immigration or security risk from entering the U.S.
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