July 23, 2003 | News Releases on National Security and Defense

Analyst: Washington Can Maintain Security and Protect Immigrant Rights

The United States is at war, and it's impossible to know where terrorists will strike next -- which is why it's critical that we establish an effective immigrant screening process to determine which aliens might pose a threat to national security, says a new paper from The Heritage Foundation.


The Justice Department's Office of Inspector General recently issued a report that identifies a number of problems and inefficiencies in the screening system put in place immediately after Sept. 11. They include delays in notifying aliens of the charges against them and, in some cases, denying their right to challenge the government's decision to hold them without bond or beyond the 90-day removal deadline.


But this doesn't mean the entire system is broken, according to Heritage's Michael Scardaville. "The Inspector General's report shows that serious problems can arise when major policy initiatives are implemented during a time of crisis," says Scardaville, a policy analyst for homeland security. "But the report also suggests that instituting the appropriate planning and safeguards in the clearance process could correct these problems."


Those safeguards include: Establishing an alien screening and clearance center under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), amending federal law to allow DHS to detain aliens suspected of having terrorist ties longer than 90 days, and expanding congressional oversight of immigration and nationalization policy.


With these relatively simple changes, the U.S. can improve homeland security, while also ensuring the rights of aliens and immigrants.

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