A terrorism report released by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security has come under fire from two groups seeking to suppress the information contained in the report, reported The Washington Times.
The report found that 73 percent (three out of every four persons) convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. courts between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2016 were foreign-born.
During the same time period, the report states, “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed approximately 1,716 aliens with national security concerns. Further, in 2017 alone DHS had 2,554 encounters with individuals on the terrorist watch list (also known as the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database) traveling to the United States.”
The report was required by President Trump’s Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The order directed the government to raise the baseline for the vetting and screening of foreign nationals to “prevented the entry of malicious actors,” thus “[enhancing] the safety and security of the American people.”
Commenting on the report, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality—our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety.
Sessions further said, “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.”
Critics who object to the report – and Trump’s travel pause — say it is misleading in that the number of foreign-born people convicted of terrorism-related charges in recent years has significantly decreased. One such critic, Karen Greenberg, who is the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law, says 60 percent of individuals convicted of ISIS cases in the U.S. in “the last few years” were born in the U.S.
Greenberg, however, did not offer the number of years for her statistic, nor did she comment all terror-related cases (only those involving ISIS).
Ironically, Greenberg as well as other critics say that the report is too vague, pointing to certain language in the report.
For example, when the report states that in 2017 alone the DHS had 2,554 encounters with individuals on the terrorist watch list, it does not state the outcome of those encounters.
“You can’t say because someone is investigated that they’re guilty,” said Greenberg.
Critics also noted that the report does not include statistics about white supremacist groups for comparison. One reason is because the report looked at terror-related cases in federal courts. Since there are no federal laws regarding domestic terrorism, those cases are tried in state court or through other federal charges such as murder or using a weapon of mass destruction.
The executive order banning immigration from countries considered to be security risks was lifted in January after a 90-day review of vetting rules. New procedures are now in place to weed out potential security and criminal risks from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and other countries that remain unnamed.