Sunday, January 02, 2005

Tracking Down Immigrant Fugitives

Homeland Security Department has 18 fugitive squads trying to track down 370,000 'absconders' -- illegal immigrants who have disobeyed orders to leave the country.

"At the top of the list were 6,000 absconders from Muslim and Middle Eastern countries, officials announced.

But by early 2003, authorities had resolved only 38 percent of those cases, either by detaining the immigrants or by confirming that they had left the country or gotten legal status, according to the 9/11 Commission. In a report on terrorist travel, the commission concluded: "It is very difficult to find alien absconders without extraordinary effort or pure luck."

"People feel they can get away with running . . . because the immigration law isn't enforced..."

Electronic ankle bracelets and ordering periodic call ins have been tried because of the lack of detention beds but these methods have allowed those ordered deported to abscond.

Currently the agency is making plans for 30 more teams which according to the article have four men and a supervisor involved in the search for one individual. When the leads fail, they move on to another absconder and eventually find one. Whether or not funding will be available to form these teams is uncertain.

It is difficult to accept that people who are ordered to leave the country are expected to "call in" and let officials know where they are. Why are these illegals allowed back into our population so they may disappear? How long does it take to arrange transportation back to the countries they came from? It would seem more economical to keep them in custody, get them to the airport and escort them to their home country. This would eliminate the need to build more detention facilities and the need to develop teams of fugitive squads to search them out after they have absconded.

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