Report a 'clear reminder' why immigration policy needs overhaul, attorney general says.
Seventy-five percent of those convicted of international terrorism-related offenses are foreign born, the Trump administration said Tuesday seeking to buttress President's Donald Trump's sought immigration overhauls.
The Justice and Homeland Security department said in a report that 402 of 549 individuals convicted of terrorism offense between Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2016 were not born in the U.S.
The figures are being used by the administration to justify Trump's intended end of migration to the U.S. based on extended familial relations, or "chain migration", as well as the diversity visa lottery system.
"This report is a clear reminder of why we cannot continue to rely on immigration policy based on pre-9/11 thinking that leaves us woefully vulnerable to foreign-born terrorists, and why we must examine our visa laws and continue to intensify screening and vetting of individuals traveling to the United States," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement announcing the findings.
The report is in compliance with an executive order Trump issued in March 2017 requiring its publication.
Asked if the administration has a tally of how many of the foreign-born nationals it counted in its terrorism survey came to the U.S. based on chain migration or the diversity lottery, a senior administration who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity said the administration does not.
"We hope to be able to provide statistical information about the manner of entry of all of these individuals in a future iteration of this report," he said. "I can assure you that it is more than just a few cherry picked cases that are represented here in this report."
A fact sheet sent out by the White House lists five individuals who came to the U.S. based on the systems Trump is hoping to end. Abdurasaul Hasanovich Juraboev and Ali Shukri Amin came to the U.S. on the visa lottery while Mufid Elfgeeh, Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan and Uzair Paracha entered the U.S. using familial relations, it said.
Only Elfgeeh is listed as coming to the U.S. based on "chain migration". The other two came as "as a relative of a lawful permanent resident", which could imply a spouse or parent and thus would not be counted as "chain migration", which is based on further extended relations such as cousins and uncles.
If that is the final count, that represents just under 1 percent of the 402 foreign-born individuals convicted of terror-related charges, casting doubt on the need to end the diversity lotto or "chain migration" to bolster national security.
In addition, the report said Homeland Security had encounters with 2,554 individuals on the terrorism watch list as they sought to enter the U.S. in the fiscal year ending at the conclusion of September 2017.
The report does not specify whether they were seeking to enter the U.S. based on a program Trump is seeking to end.