Breakdown In Immigration Screening: The Devil Is In The Details

Jonathan GilliamFebruary 21, 20176min1470
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As the activist and their judges in the 9th Circuit Court wrestle with President Donald J. Trump over immigration and executive orders, one of the most dangerous mistakes consistently being repeated by politicians and academic policy makers is still being overlooked.  That being subject Matter Experts (SMEs) with real, recent operational experience are not consulted and detailed solutions are rarely considered.

Perhaps this is best exposed when considering the immigration screening issue.  Call them immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers etc., it really doesn’t matter because there is a breakdown of epic proportions happening when it comes to fingerprinting immigration applicants and collecting their data while they are in their country of origin.  The break down occurs in that if fingerprints are taken and information is collected, it is not being ran through the Department of Defense (DOD) secured databases before the applicants come to the United States.  This is important because the DOD databases contain information on an unknown number of dangerous people who have been caught and released in war zones, or people who may be associated with them.

Currently in the United States there are hundreds of ongoing investigations of individuals that have come to the US (some as long as 10 years ago) that were originally caught by the DOD in the Middle East making bombs, planting IED’s etc. The DOD fingerprinted these individuals but that information was never put in databases that were shared with State Department or Border patrol. Because remote locations where immigrants are submitting their applications for admission into the US often do not offer the technology to scan fingerprints or upload data, individuals are not even fingerprinted in places like Djibouti where immigrants from Somalia get “screened” when they seek to immigrate to the US.

Even in the places where immigrants are fingerprinted, those prints are still not uploaded to databases for a total and complete scan of their history.  Phone numbers are not being run properly through DOD databases either during this process and they ultimately go unknown as well. Yet many immigrants are still put on a plane by our State Department and sent to the US.

When these immigrants arrive in the US it is ensured that they are fingerprinted, but in most cases those prints and other important data are still not ran through the classified DOD databases. Yet the process continues and they are processed and cleared to enter into the US from whatever holding facility in which they arrive.

Interestingly, the one time when the DOD systems can be accessed isn’t until years later when immigrants approach ICE to get benefits or citizenship.  That is apparently when information is finally ran through the DOD system.

Now, hundreds of cases are being investigated domestically in the United States involving immigrants that have been residing inside the US for long periods of time (in some cases over 10 years) who are connected to bombings and other crimes from war zones in the Middle East, where their information had been collected by operators in the field, and uploaded to DOD databases with no plan to share with other agencies.

There are more details to this story but it is problematic in that no one really knows exactly what immigrant information is screened and when that screening occurred.  Although Donald J. Trump has only been in office one month, this is an issue that has largely been overlooked by previous presidents, and could easily be missed by Trump’s team.

If President Trump’s administration concentrated on these types of details that subject matter experts working on the ground understand, many of the screening gaps could be closed and our immigration security could take a huge leap forward.

As a former FBI Special Agent, my investigative mind tells me these issues will continue to plague immigration screening because so much attention is being placed on executive orders and hiring more Customs Officers and not simple solutions.

The Devil is always in the details, that’s why simple issues always cause such massive problems.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask someone who is working at the ground level, like the policy makers should be doing!

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