Three-fourths of people convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001 and the end of 2016 were foreign-born, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security said Tuesday. Over the same period, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed 1,716 aliens with national security concern, the departments said. Last year, DHS had 2,554 “encounters” with people on the terrorist watch list traveling to the U.S. The report said that of least 549 individuals convicted of terrorism charges over 15 years, international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016. DHS said that 254 were not U.S. citizens, 148 were foreign-born, naturalized and received U.S. citizenship; and 147 were U.S. citizens by birth.
“This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality—our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “And the information in this report is only the tip of the iceberg: we currently have terrorism-related investigations against thousands of people in the United States, including hundreds of people who came here as refugees.” He added that it is “is simply not reasonable” to ask law enforcement employees “to risk their lives to enforce the law while we admit thousands every year without sufficient knowledge about their backgrounds.” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said, “We must examine our visa laws and continue to intensify screening and vetting of individuals traveling to the United States to prevent terrorists, criminals, and other dangerous individuals from reaching our country.”