- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Inadequate resources, faulty computer data and insufficient training prevented Immigration and Naturalization Service inspectors from properly screening foreign visitors last year at the nation's ports of entry, including would-be terrorists, illegal aliens and smugglers, a report said yesterday.
The Justice Department's Office of Inspector General recommended the INS take immediate steps to improve its primary-inspection operations at the nation's 220 airports designated as official ports of entry, at which nearly 70 million visitors were inspected last year.
INS has since been transferred to the Department of Homeland Security, and the inspector general's report was forwarded to officials at the new agency, who now have responsibility for overseeing the primary and secondary inspection functions at air ports of entry.
Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, in the report, said:
The capability of INS inspectors to analyze advance passenger information to identify high-risk and inadmissible travelers was hampered by inadequate resources. He said advance information and analysis was critical in identifying high-risk persons so inspectors could prevent the entry to the United States of inadmissible persons.
The INS's computer database system, known as the "lookout system," did not always provide inspectors critical information known to the INS that could enable them to identify high-risk and inadmissible travelers.
Inspectors were not always querying lookout databases as required, and controls were not sufficient to ensure that all inspectors and supervisors could access backup information systems in case of computer outages.
Mr. Fine also said computer training provided to new inspectors was insufficient to allow them to capably use the systems that provide lookout and other critical information on travelers seeking entry into the United States.
"This lack of adequate training increases the risk that inspectors could admit inadmissible travelers," said Mr. Fine.
More than $19 million was allocated in fiscal 2002 to provide basic training to approximately 1,000 new immigration inspectors at the INS's Immigration Officer Academy. Mr. Fine said the basic training course does provide "a good foundation" for newly hired inspectors.
Mr. Fine also said the fact that nearly 26 percent of all inspectors at air, land and sea ports of entry were newly hired employees last year "only increased the need to implement an aggressive and complete inspector training program."
The inspector general's report contained 27 recommendations to improve primary-inspection operations, focusing on what Mr. Fine called "the need to expeditiously improve the capability to perform passenger analyses prior to flight arrival."
The report also addresses the need to ensure that vital lookout and sensitive intelligence information is made available to primary-immigration inspectors.
The report also outlined the need to strengthen controls over the entire primary-inspection process to ensure that the inspectors were aware of procedural requirements, that they could analyze the results of lookout queries and that they could refer appropriate travelers to secondary inspection.
Of the 70 million inspections last year at the nation's air ports of entry, INS intercepted 6,900 criminal aliens, 2,700 persons being smuggled into the United States and 18,000 fraudulent travel and identification documents. In total, INS inspectors denied admission to 208,000 travelers during inspections at air ports of entry in fiscal 2002.
Commercial airlines are required to submit detailed passenger manifests before arriving or departing the United States, including name and dates of birth for each passenger, their citizenship, passport numbers and information on the U.S. visas as well as an address in the United States.
After the September 11 attacks on America, changes were made to the U.S. visa system to keep out other attackers. All 19 of the September 11 hijackers entered the country on valid visas.

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