Tags: New | Border | Security | Results | 179 | Arrests

New Border Security Results in 179 Arrests

Thursday, 07 November 2002 12:00 AM

"The challenge we face is identifying those that would threaten the United States," Ashcroft said at a news conference standing in front of the rapids leading to Niagara Falls. "The National Security Entry Exit Registration System, known as NSEERS – using fingerprinting, registration and monitoring of aliens entering and exiting the country – has closed the loop on those of highest risk to the United States."

The Department of Justice said the system mandated by Congress after last year's terrorist attacks has been in operation at all ports of entry into the United States since Sept. 11, 2002. Last month, Ashcroft twice canceled scheduled unveilings of the system.

Since the system has been in operation, the Immigration and Naturalization Services has used intelligence criteria to identify the 14,000 aliens who have been registered in the system to date, Ashcroft said.

Those who come from countries identified by the federal government as sponsors of terrorism – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria – are of special interest, but country of origin is not the sole criteria for registration, he said.

"It is not based on ethnic or religious criteria but on intelligence-based criteria, databases and the list of countries that sponsor terrorism," he said. "It does not offend the civil rights of citizens or non-citizens."

He said many of the 179 arrested at the border had serious criminal records.

"Some were wanted on arrest warrants. Some were inadmissible to the United States because of serious criminal records. Some attempted to enter using false pretenses or false documents," Ashcroft said. "If today or tomorrow a terrorist was identified by NSEERS, it would not be the first time."

Ashcroft outlined the system, which includes:

"The fingerprinting and scanning through the system takes three minutes, and I've had my own fingerprint put through the system," Ashcroft said.

He said the 14,000 aliens registered in the system were from 112 countries.

"From the Baltics to the Balkans, to the Cape of Good Hope to the Rock of Gibraltar, no country is exempt and the place of birth is not the sole criteria for registration."

Technology makes it possible for the fingerprinting and scanning, but the more important element is the human element, the INS inspectors are the first line of defense, Ashcroft said.

The attorney general tried to mend ties with Canada, which late last month issued a rare travel advisory warning citizens born in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan or Syria to

"No neighbor has been as good a neighbor as Canada has been to the United States, so we try to do what is good for both nations, which are such good friends," Ashcroft said. "Most Canadians crossing the border will not be fingerprinted."

The Canadian warning also cautioned citizens of Pakistani, Saudi or Yemeni origin that they might be singled out for special attention from the INS. It followed the deportation of a Syrian-born Canadian to Syria by U.S. immigration authorities when he arrived at New York's JFK airport en route from a visit to Tunisia to his home in Canada.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The challenge we face is identifying those that would threaten the United States, Ashcroft said at a news conference standing in front of the rapids leading to Niagara Falls. The National Security Entry Exit Registration System, known as NSEERS -using fingerprinting,...
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2002-00-07
Thursday, 07 November 2002 12:00 AM
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