- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Immigration and Naturalization Service officials yesterday denied accusations that the agency has grossly understated the number of illegal aliens who have defied deportation orders and are roving the country.
But Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, said when it comes to INS denials, "Color me skeptical."
INS Commissioner James W. Ziglar testified in December before a House subcommittee that 314,000 "absconders" are loose in the nation. But an article in the national conservative weekly Human Events, citing congressional and Justice Department sources, claims that the number is closer to 1 million.
"Absconders" is the term the INS uses to describe illegal aliens some of them criminals and many from nations considered al Qaeda havens who have been ordered out of the country, posted a bond to assure they will comply, but instead have merely melted into the general U.S. population.
Human Events said that "in a written statement" to the magazine, the INS "conceded it cannot vouch for the accuracy of its claim that there are 314,000 immigration 'absconders' in the United States."
The article cites the estimates of congressional sources and figures produced by the Justice Department's Executive Office of Immigration Review in arguing the INS number is wrong. The executive office is independent of the INS, although both are part of the Justice Department.
An INS official who declined to be named said Human Events "is trying to finagle figures to show the number of absconders could be a million. Its process is flawed; it's not scientific. It's wrong. The magazine used anedcotal evidence and statements of individuals who have not been associated with INS for a decade. There is nothing to support the projections cited in the article."
The INS official said that, since December when Mr. Ziglar testifed to the number of absconders, the INS has been analyzing its records and now believes there may be fewer than the 314,000 absconders Mr. Ziglar mentioned.
"We're finding there are people we thought were absconders who have left the country or died and some who left and then returned legally and others who were granted temporary protective status and so forth," the INS official explained.
Informed of the INS reaction, Mr. Tancredo, chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus said, "Excuse me for being cynical or skeptical about what the INS knows about this.
"But, for starters: The INS actually delivered to the National Crime Information Center database 314,000 names of absconders, and asked local law enforcement to help in recovering these people.
"Then the INS told the magazine it wasn't sure of the number. Now the agency is saying there are the names of people in the database that shouldn't be there?
"Are we going to arrest people who shouldn't be named in the first place?" Mr. Tancredo asked. "Is this the next faux pas?"
If studies by the General Accounting Office and the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General are predictors, it could be. Those oversight agencies have repeatedly faulted the INS for the inaccuracy of its computer data.
The INS has been striving to patch its complex information systems. But progress has, by all accounts, been slow. In October, Glenn A. Fine, Justice's inspector general, gave the House Judiciary Committee subcommittee on immigration and claims a report regarding INS information systems.
"We found that the INS had not implemented adequate safeguards to ensure the accuracy of existing data that would be used by systems being developed or re-engineered, or the adequacy of future data inputs," Mr. Fine said. "As a result, new or existing INS systems could contain inaccurate or unreliable data."
Mr. Fine added: "The General Accounting Office issued reports in August 2000 and December 2000 that reached related conclusions about the INS' management of its information technology programs."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide