The report, part of an executive order that sought to tighten entry criteria into the US, states that 73 percent of 549 people found guilty of international terrorism offences in federal courts were from overseas.
Released by the US Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday, the report’s statistics span more than 15 years, between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016.
However, the new report has come in for criticism for some key omissions, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) branding it a tool designed to deliberately cause alarm. According to the full text, domestic terrorism is not taken into account, while the statistics include foreign individuals transported to the US to face international terrorism charges.
Manar Waheed, ACLU counsel, told RT.com that the US government has resorted to “fear-mongering” regarding immigration policy.
“Facing a ticking clock on the future of DACA and backlash over its position on the diversity lottery… this government has resorted to its go-to tool: fear-mongering,” Waheed said.
“The report lumps US citizens and non-citizens together as ‘foreign-born’. It ignores domestic terrorism, focusing only on international terrorism. And it includes statistics relating to crimes that occurred wholly overseas, even though the report was supposed to be about the US.”
US President Donald Trump tweeted the report “shows that nearly 3 in 4 individuals convicted of terrorism-related charges are foreign-born.” He said a list of “resources and reforms” have been submitted to Congress, indicating that the US needs to move away from a lottery immigration system to a merit-based one.
....we need to keep America safe, including moving away from a random chain migration and lottery system, to one that is merit-based. https://t.co/7PtoSFK1n2— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018
Alex Nowrasteh, immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, described the report as “misleading.”
“By focusing exclusively on international terrorism-related charges, this report intentionally ignores domestic terrorists unaffiliated with international terrorists,” he wrote. “Thus, the results of the DHS/DOJ report are, at best, a snapshot of the international subset of terrorism that ignores the purely domestic variety.”
He added: “The DHS/DOJ report ignores the most important statistic: how many people were actually killed by these terrorists on U.S. soil.”
A number of journalists have also highlighted their concerns with the government analysis.
Key point: The figures don't distinguish between foreigners specifically extradited to the US for trial, and immigrants arrested for conduct committed here. https://t.co/J3Ztiw9eWL— Devlin Barrett (@DevlinBarrett) January 16, 2018
This report includes people who committed terrorist acts overseas, were arrested overseas and brought here to face trial - that’s some definition of immigrant. https://t.co/QR0wIz4tqH— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) January 16, 2018
Trump misquotes the DOJ/DHS report here. The report only encompasses "international terrorism-related charges," not all terrorism related charges, which would of course also include domestic terrorism https://t.co/XABPjCBtvA https://t.co/ioQWlpb9P8— Yeganeh Torbati (@yjtorbati) January 16, 2018
Also to note: Report "does not include individuals convicted of offenses relating to domestic terrorism, nor does it include information related to terrorism-related convictions in state courts."— Lee Ferran (@leeferran) January 17, 2018
The DOJ and DHS report also reveals that 1,716 foreign individuals were removed from the US because of “national security concerns” over the same period of time.
Between October 2011 and September 2017, some 372,098 non-US citizens offenders were removed from the United States after an aggravated felony, according to the international terrorism statistics.
“This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality – our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a statement.
“Our law enforcement professionals do amazing work, but it is simply not reasonable to keep asking them to risk their lives to enforce the law while we admit thousands every year without sufficient knowledge about their backgrounds.
“The pillars of President Trump’s immigration policy – securing our porous borders, moving to a merit-based immigration system that ends the use of diversity visas and chain migration, and enforcing our nation’s laws – will make their jobs easier and make the United States a safer place,” he added.
Under Executive Order 13780, the Trump administration placed a temporary pause on the admission of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The order replaced a January 2017 ‘travel ban’ restricting entry for individuals from seven Muslim-majority nations and prevented Syrian refugees from coming to the US indefinitely. Trump later described the amended travel restrictions as “watered down” and “politically correct.”
The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
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