NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

INS Mismanaged Computer System For Tracking Illegals

November 7, 2001

Despite having spent $31.2 million on a computer system designed to locate immigrants who overstay their visas, the Immigration and Naturalization Service still does not have a viable system for tracking them. That is one of the conclusions of a report from the Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General.

Moreover, the INS says it will need another $57 million through fiscal 2005 to complete the system.

  • Congress in 1996 began passing legislation requiring the INS to develop an automated entry/exit system to use at ports of entry.
  • So far, the program operates at only four airports and at none of the nation's land or sea ports of entry.
  • The IG's report says that those who do not leave the country after their visas expire represent about 40 percent of the five million illegal immigrants in the U.S.
  • As many as 10 of the Sept. 11 terrorists were in this category.

In a separate investigation, the IG's office found that nearly 11 percent of the foreigners paroled or released into the U.S. under a "deferred inspection" program did not appear at an INS office to complete the process. Deferred inspections occur when INS officials at ports of entry cannot determine a person's admissibility to the U.S.

In such cases, the person is simply told to report to an INS office for further evaluation at a later date. About 10,000 inspections are deferred each year.

Source: Jerry Seper, "INS Faulted for Losing Track of Visa Offenders," Washington Times, November 7, 2001; "INS's Automated I-94 System," I-2001-18, August 2001, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice.


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