A new government report found that the overwhelming majority of terrorists convicted in U.S. federal courts after September 11, 2001, were foreign-born.
The report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) showed that approximately 402 of the 549 terrorists convicted in U.S. courts on international terrorism-related charges are foreign nationals:
According to a list maintained by DOJ’s National Security Division, at least 549 individuals were convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016. An analysis conducted by DHS determined that approximately 73 percent (402 of these 549 individuals) were foreign-born. Breaking down the 549 individuals by citizenship status at the time of their respective convictions reveals that:
- 254 were not U.S. citizens
- 148 were foreign-born, naturalized and received U.S. citizenship
- 147 were U.S. citizens by birth
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen described the report’s findings as "chilling" and cautioned that the report does not accurately portray the magnitude of the terror threat the U.S. faces.
"This report is a clear reminder of why we cannot continue to rely on immigration policy based on pre-9/11 thinking that leaves us woefully vulnerable to foreign-born terrorists, and why 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," Nielsen said in a statement. "Without legislative change DHS will continue to see thousands of terrorists a year attempt to enter the United States, and while we must be right every time, the terrorists only need to be lucky once."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions weighed in on the report, echoing similar remarks as those given by Nielsen.
"This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality—our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety," Sessions said. "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."
"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," Sessions continued. "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."