- The Washington Times - Friday, February 28, 2003

The Immigration and Naturalization Service last year removed only 13 percent of the illegal aliens not in custody but facing deportation orders, and only 6 percent of those non-detained aliens from the seven nations listed by the State Department as sponsors of international terrorism.

According to a report by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General, more than 350,000 non-detained aliens with deportation orders were in the United States as of June.

They had failed to comply with court-ordered removals and were avoiding detection by the INS.

The report described non-detained aliens as those not in custody at the time they received orders to leave the country.

"The INS continues to dedicate insufficient resources to removing non-detained aliens, work with incomplete and inaccurate data in its electronic database, and face external barriers to removing illegal aliens," said Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

Noting that millions of aliens attempt to enter the United States illegally each year or enter legally but overstay or violate their visas, Mr. Fine said the INS faces a "significant challenge" in determining how to address long-standing deficiencies in its apprehension and removal of non-detained aliens.

"This review documented that the INS remains fundamentally ineffectual at meeting this challenge," he said.

Mr. Fine described as "alarming" the 6 percent removal rate for illegal aliens in this country from the seven nations designated as sponsors of international terrorism Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

He also expressed concern over a 3 percent removal rate for those non-detained aliens ordered deported after their asylum requests were denied. He said this group "may include potential terrorists who threaten our national security."

The INS has said the removal of illegal aliens not in custody is difficult, although the USA Patriot Act approved by Congress after the September 11 attacks gives the agency more leeway in detaining illegal aliens. The act also authorized 40 additional personnel to help track down missing aliens.

In March 1996, the Inspector General's Office also reported that the INS was "ineffective" at apprehending and removing non-detained aliens, with only 11 percent ever being removed from the country. The 1996 review contained recommendations to improve the INS' effectiveness at apprehending and removing non-detained aliens, but the new report said the recommendations had not been followed.

Mr. Fine said the newest inquiry also showed the INS has been successful in removing 92 percent of the aliens under deportation orders who already were in custody, compared with a 94 percent success rate in 1996.

The report, released Wednesday, recommended that the INS establish annual goals for finding and deporting non-detained aliens with an ultimate objective of removing 100 percent by 2012; that it identify the resources needed to achieve that objective; and that it ensure the resources are used for their intended purposes.

The report also suggested that the INS establish programs to correct deficiencies in INS data information systems and that it do a better job of informing the public of the problems in cultivating leads.

The INS will disband tomorrow, with its functions being transferred to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services inside the Department of Homeland Security.

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