Michael Marizco, Arizona Daily Star, Aug. 14
Thousands of non-Mexican illegal border crossers
from more than 150 countries have been caught trying to get into the United
States this fiscal year, a federal report released by a Colorado congressman
The apprehension rates of illegal entrants the
Border Patrol classifies as Other Than Mexican (OTMs) include people from countries
the United States says sponsor terrorism. There were seven Iranians, five Syrians
and eight North Koreans. There were 122 people from Pakistan, a country of elevated
concern, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
About 41,700 non-Mexican illegal entrants were
apprehended along the Mexico and Canada borders from Oct. 1 to June 30, according
to data provided by Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican who is a vocal
critic of immigration policy.
Of those OTM apprehensions, 132 people came from
countries that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has identified as representing
an elevated national-security concern since the Sept. 11 terror
The Department of Homeland Security does not make
its list of non-Mexican apprehensions broken down by nationality public, citing
national-security concerns. But the Border Patrols Tucson sector says
it apprehended 6,140 non-Mexican entrants through Wednesday, said Rob Griffin,
an agency spokesman.
Thats just more than 1 percent of the 418,000
Mexican nationals apprehended here since Oct. 1, the start of the agencys
Tancredo said he released the more detailed accounting
of non-Mexican illegal entrants to strengthen his contention that foreign nationals
from countries that might pose a national-security risk are being attracted
to routes along the porous U.S. border that traditionally were used mostly by
Thirty-five months past 9/11 and were
just finding out about this? Tancredo said. How many hundreds of
thousands of people have come into the country illegally?
He concedes that some of the non-Mexican illegal
entrants are coming to the United States in search of a better life. But, he
says, others might have sinister intentions.
Border Patrol officials declined to comment on
Tancredos report but say a new expanded authority will let Border Patrol
agents quickly remove non-Mexican illegal entrants.
Under the expedited removal process, scheduled
to begin in the Tucson sector in two weeks, illegal entrants not from Mexico
or Canada caught within 100 miles of the border who have been in the United
States less than 14 days will be sent home without having to first appear before
a judge. Illegal entrants deported under the new program would be flown home.
Immigration officials have said there is no estimate of how much the more frequent
flights will cost.
The new policy is designed to get those entrants
out of the country instead of having them released from custody to await a hearing.
In the past 16 months about 28,000 foreign nationals were released from custody
on the promise of returning for a hearing in immigration court. Ninety percent
did not come back.
Agents in the Tucson and Laredo, Texas, sectors
will have a two-day course in expedited removal next week, said Customs and
Border Protection spokesman Mario Villarreal.
Locally, there are high hopes the expedited removal
process will cut down on the number of non-Mexican entrants as well as number
of immigration detention cases that never make it to court, said Griffin, of
the Border Patrol.
A United Nations report coordinated with Homeland
Security showed Border Patrol agents running into problems when they instituted
a similar policy in the nations airports last year. The U.N. found that
some agents did not understand asylum law and in some instances, physically
restrained people who were trying to plead for it.
The United Nations has requested a meeting with
Homeland Security officials to better gauge the training agents will receive
when the removal process begins between the ports of entry in Southern Arizona,
said Joung-ah Ghedini, a spokeswoman for the U.N.s High Commissioner for