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Punting Immigration

A basic principle of any security mechanism is to know what you are protecting. In an immigration/border security context you would think that would be fairly straight forward, but apparently not:

Eight years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and despite repeated mandates from Congress, the United States still has no reliable system for verifying that foreign visitors have left the country.

New concern was focused on that security loophole last week, when Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year-old Jordanian who had overstayed his tourist visa, was accused in court of plotting to blow up a Dallas skyscraper. . . .

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, immigration authorities, with more than $1 billion from Congress, have greatly improved and expanded their systems to monitor foreigners when they arrive. But despite several Congressional authorizations, there are no biometric inspections or a systematic follow-up to confirm that foreign visitors have departed.

What does $1 billion dollars get you? Well, it doesn't get a wall (actual or virtual) across the southern border, but it does get you a very sophisticated exit verification process:

The current system relies on departing foreigners to turn in a paper stub when they leave.

As is all too typical Washington, there is no one to blame:

"You can't ask the immigration system to do everything," said Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a research center in Washington, and a former commissioner of the immigration service.

Apparently for some, having the immigration organ of our state security apparatus to actually keep track of immigrants is really just too much to ask.

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