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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

CHRISTMAS PLANE BOMBER CASE RAISES CONCERNS REGARDING VISITOR SCREENING

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Like most of you, I have been following the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year old Nigerian man who attempted to ignite a bomb on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. As facts begin to emerge, we can now start to discuss the immigration issues that arise in the case. There seem to be more questions than answers at this point and no doubt Department of Homeland Security and Department of State officials are reviewing how Mr. Abdulmutallab was able to fly to the United States. Here are some initial questions.

1.In May 2009, Abdulmutallab's UK visa was revoked when it was learned that the university he claimed he was attending was fictitious. He was placed on a British watch list after that. Why is information like this not shared between countries, especially close allies?

2. Abdulmutallab's father, a well-respected finance official in Nigeria, reported on November 19th to the US Embassy that his son was involved in radical Islamic activities in Yemen. The report was deemed credible enough to open an investigation and the Embassy notified other Embassies and the US counterterrorism community. Why was Abdulmutallab's visa at least not suspended until at least the investigation of the claim was completed?

3. Abdulmutallab bought his airline ticket in Ghana on December 16th with almost $3000 cash and gave no contact information. How did this not raise alarm bells?

4. On December 24th, he boarded an international flight with no luggage. How was this very suspicious behavior not noticed?

5. Abdulmutallab's name was placed in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, the American government's terror watch list. 550,000 names are on that list. However, despite being added to that list, Abdulmutallab's visa remained unaffected and individuals on this list are permitted to fly and are not subject to secondary screening. Why?

6. Lagos, Nigeria has a notoriously insecure airport. Why did the Amsterdam airport fail to properly re-screen a passenger coming from that location? I just flew out of Amsterdam last month and all flight screening is done at each gate by private contractors. The US has done away with using private contractors for airport security and screening is centralized in each terminal. Should the US impose tighter standards on allowing planes in to US airspace if passengers are not going through more rigorous checks?

EIght years have passed since 9/11. At the beginning of this crisis, the government claimed that it needed time to get computer systems in place and to work on data sharing arrangements so that it could more effectively prevent incidents of just the sort that happened last week. If there is anything positive to come from this scary event, it at least has reminded us that we still have a lot of work to do. 

Of course, rather than focusing on trying to prevent terrorists from getting on airplanes, it seems like our government has reacted by imposing silly rules that will not make us safer. Making passengers show up four hours before a flight to check in, barring carry on bags and then asking passengers to sit for an hour before landing without even being able to read a book will only make traveling so unpleasant that people will do anything possible to avoid air travel (which I suppose is a way to reduce the odds of being a victim of terrorism since out of business airlines don't fly planes).

You can also assume that the extreme xenophobes will call on us to ban foreign tourists to keep us safe. If you think that the recession of the last year has been fun, that's a solution you'll find appealing.

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  1. yunis Rodriguez's Avatar
    Well please can someone listen to the news today.

    This people has no right , as I far I am concern if you don't like it here get out and if you are trying or doing something against us here you should pay the ultimate consequences .'On the other hand, what are we going to continue paying for their mess and sending them to country club , having healthcare access that us Americans do not have? Please wake up Americans.

    Kill them all and you will see they will think twice. Better yet those 50 thousand that are in the watch list.... why are they coming here , do not let them , civil rights , humans right ,,,, well burn that too if you are a criminal you should be treated the same way.

    Our president has citizen so much and wants do much change, please give us a break from your big failure joke. The president should resign now. The other day uninvited couples walk in to the white house in their face ... and now all this. Please just move out of that white house is a job for a person that knows what they are doing.


    his specch today he told us that we need to learn from our mistakes, ohh wait he critizes Bush due to his failure with Terrorism and besides that they do not want to call a terrorist they are called "suspects" instead he wants to avoid the statement .,,, he talked from Hawai.

    Please America wake up. we do not need to have a watch list we need not to have one.
  2. gg's Avatar
    ---- DEMOCRAT NY Assemblyman calls for Ethinic Profiling ---


    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/29/dov-hikind-ny-assemblyman_n_406376.html
  3. B. Matthew's Avatar
    "Our president has citizen so much and wants do much change, please give us a break from your big failure joke. The president should resign now. The other day uninvited couples walk in to the white house in their face ... and now all this. Please just move out of that white house is a job for a person that knows what they are doing"

    Learn English! Now I understand the importance and relevance of this clause in the proposed CIR bill?
  4. Jim's Avatar
    This is more a breakdown in Intel and Intel sharing. Everything else are a distant 2nd. Yes, even the airport security in Amsterdam was not the main problem.

    Terrorists will always find a way to circumvent security in airports from different countries. The solution is to make sure real terrorists can't even board a plane. So, before pointing fingers to other countries for their shortcomings the US should look into their own shortcomings first.

    The information were all there, no one just bothered to piece it together and act on it. This is because they were all busy profiling elderly females and the like on airports. Agents going inside planes and looking for people and escorting them out because they are suspect for overstaying their visas to look for jobs. US consuls on US embassies are also busy profiling and denying single/marrying age females of visas, denying children of visiting their parents in the US (even if it were life and death) because they deem them as probable overstayers because they don't have enough money or much of profession to come back to. Meanwhile, since the Xmas day bomber is from a rich family, attended school in London the US consul in the US embassy in London decided to give him a visa and they can fly to the US anytime they want.

    Like I've mentioned recently. Focus less on probable overstayers and the like and focus more on identifying real security threats.

    Just my humble opinion.
  5. beppe's Avatar
    Greg,
    i think that we have an opportunity. How about tell that the DHS should be more busy to look for terrorist than Nanny???
  6. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    Fake Rodriguez - just remember, this one will apply to you, too: "Kill them all and you will see they will think twice. Better yet those 50 thousand that are in the watch list.... why are they coming here , do not let them , civil rights , humans right ,,,, well burn that too if you are a criminal you should be treated the same way. "
    Since you want to "kill them all" without investigating who is a criminal and who is not, then you are the first criminal on my list.
  7. Jim's Avatar
    NASDAQ building in NY being evacuated as a precaution due to suspicious package and/or van parked nearby. Initial reports are still iffy.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/34632202

    Hope it turns out to be nothing.

    Keep safe, America.
  8. USC's Avatar
    "asking passengers to sit for an hour before landing without even being able to read a book will only make traveling so unpleasant that people will do anything possible to avoid air travel (which I suppose is a way to reduce the odds of being a victim of terrorism since out of business airlines don't fly planes)."

    Once again I find myself in agreement with your thoughts. How about we require passengers to strip naked and remain naked for the duration of their flight and be done with it?

  9. gg's Avatar
    " Abdulmutallab's father, a well-respected finance official in Nigeria, reported on November 19th to the US Embassy that his son was involved in radical Islamic activities in Yemen. The report was deemed credible enough to open an investigation and the Embassy notified other Embassies and the US counterterrorism community. Why was Abdulmutallab's visa at least not suspended until at least the investigation of the claim was completed? "

    The temporary work visa's are more strict in comparison. Without a valid H1 one cant even apply for a driving license. I think the lawmakers have got immigration completely upside down, screwing law abiding legal/illegal (folks on self imposed exile) instead of going after bad guys.
  10. gg's Avatar
    Dogs to sniff undy bombs ...

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2009/12/30/finnstrom.bomb.sniffer.dogs.cnn

  11. Josh's Avatar
    Yes. Lose your job as an H1 and you are kicked out of the country at that very momemnt. Yet, they could not revoke the visa of a reported terrorist. They are spending all the money chasing nannies and poor construction workers from Mexico. Funny immigration policies. They should look up north to Canada to get immigration right.
  12. Jim's Avatar
    "The temporary work visa's are more strict in comparison. Without a valid H1 one cant even apply for a driving license. I think the lawmakers have got immigration completely upside down, screwing law abiding legal/illegal (folks on self imposed exile) instead of going after bad guys."

    That is exactly what me and George were trying to say as well.

    The US is doing everything almost the opposite or upside down as you've said. They are profiling the wrong people. And the terrorists knows this as well. That is why this 23 yr old Nigerian was able to get a multi-entry-visa and able to board a plane. He doesn't fit their silly profiling standards. Their motto for giving out multi-entry visas is: "we really don't care what your purpose of visit is but if you will go back to your home country after your visit". That's why the US embassy in London gave him a multi-entry visa. Meanwhile, across the oceans consuls in almost all US Embassies are denying multi-entry and single-entry visas and acting like pre-cogs (ala minority report) but instead of identifying security threats they are more concerned on those who will overstay in the US, look for a job, etc... Even being a single female are a cost of concerned for fear of going to the US and marrying a US Citizen and therefore grounds for denial. Like I said, they act as if they are pre-cogs ala minority report but all for the wrong reasons and purpose.

    Priority #1 should be identifying terrorists and other security threats (such as cyber hacking, electrical grid hacking, etc..) rather than focusing all their attention to
    illegals, hispanics, probable/suspect overstayers. Don't forget about handcuffing elderly females on airports as well.

    It is also better to re-train ICE agents to identify and counter terrorists rather than let them patrol the streets for illegals or confiscate pirated goods like they did this Xmas season.
  13. USC's Avatar
    On the scene report from Heathrow (about 4 hours ago):

    "Here we go it is past the departure time and they have brought us back to the lounge coz the
    security checks is taking too long, they are hand checking all the carry ons as well as body search
    so it is taking too much time. They do not have the fast check so they gave us option of waiting
    in the lounge. F obviously did not hear them so he is left waiting on line they have male and female lines. I have mailed Vanna to check before coming so make sure."

    By fast check she means "Fast Track" which is a very nice service offered to First Class passengers at Heathrow. Obviously, that is not in operation today.
  14. Legal-immigrant's Avatar
    White House prepares for immigration overhaul battle

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-immigration30-2009dec30,0,4277224.story?track=rss
  15. George Chell's Avatar
    If the State Department spends more time denying visas to intended terrorists instead of denying visas to Thai, Chinese, Korean, Filipina and East European women, who are considered peaceful but intending immigrants we all would be safer. The difference between our State Department and the Singapore Home Affairs is that they deny entry to intending terrorists, those who are likely to return home (after their ghastly act)while we spend money keeping peaceful women out because they intend to marry an American men and settle here. Is the State Department and the US Congress very concerned about presrving American men for American women or is it more concerned that another progeny of a foreign-US couple may end up becoming President of the United States in half a century? How many of you are for abolishing Section 214(b) which allows terrorists into this country?

    Happy New Year!!

    Happy New Year!!!
  16. Jim's Avatar
    The Whitehouse and Congress should really now strongly consider immigration reform ASAP. Immigration reform will close out all loopholes in anti-terrorism and the soon to be signed historic HC bill. I also hope they overhaul and cut out all those silly things they do in US embassies and consulates around the world.

    Xenophobes will never get it how immigration reform is tied-up with the economy, anti-terrorism, health care reform, social security and almost everything else.

  17. Legal-immigrant's Avatar
    Greg and All, Happy New Year!!!

    [ This one is different from investors visa ]

    "Silicon Valley campaign seeks startup visa for foreign entrepreneurs"

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/01/silicon-valley-startup-visa-entrepreneurs

  18. Jim's Avatar
    Sen. Lieberman is suggesting that Homeland Security should be the one handling visas abroad rather than the State Dept.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60219D20100103

    I don't know about you guys but I think it's a good idea if not a great idea esp. if done right. This way, the biases and non-sense profiling (official and personal) that the US consuls do abroad would end.

    Identifying security threats should be the focus anyway at this age of terrorism as Sen. Lieberman mentioned and not profile people base on being female of marrying age, size of savings account and properties and other non-sense profiling standards.

    To complete everything and even how ironic it may sound, Homeland Security should liberalize visa issuance as long as applicants are identified as non-threats. Non-terrorists and other security threats should be able to travel to the US w/ no to minimal obstruction.

    They should also consider adapting what most countries do. Give visa-free travel to everyone but cap it to 14, 30, 60 days (at most) of stay. A lot of people will appreciate a lower allowable but visa-free days of stay than get a multi-year, multiple-entry visa if it means being scrutinized by US consuls and being asked silly questions and resulting in denying people base on silly, non-sense profilig standards and then giving people like the 23-yr old Nigerian a multiple-entry visa.

    3-6 months of stay should only be given to very low risk individuals such as parents of a legally staying immigrant.
    Most elderly parents in the first place really have no desire to stay in the US and only reason for them to travel is to visit their children.
  19. George Chell's Avatar
    "I don't know about you guys but I think it's a good idea if not a great idea esp. if done right. This way, the biases and non-sense profiling (official and personal) that the US consuls do abroad would end."

    For once Lieberman has it right!!

  20. George Chell's Avatar
    One more thing...the US consular officers are busier stopping foreign women from entering the US from countries such as Russia, Thailand and the Philippines..for the fear that they will date and marry American men...they have not been paying attention to potential terrorists! Section 214(b) has done a great deal of harm than good..and it needs to be abolished!
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