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  • U.S. gets a better handle on who's entering country

    There are immigrants, nonimmigrants and illegal immigrants. There are
    criminal aliens, political asylum seekers, and refugees. Now, the nation's
    complex immigration system has added another category by which to classify
    new arrivals: "special aliens."

    They are male visitors, including students, tourists and workers, from 18
    Middle Eastern nations that the U.S. government believes may harbor terrorists.

    Under a new law, adult men from five of those countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya,
    Sudan and Syria must report by today to a U.S. Immigration and
    Naturalization Service office to be photographed, fingerprinted and
    interviewed. If they don't show up, they can face deportation.

    The deadline is the latest benchmark in the government's efforts to
    implement a system that eventually will track all foreign visitors by 2005.

    The INS began registering special aliens on Sept. 11, the first anniversary
    of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

    Male visitors from 13 additional countries have until Jan. 10 to register
    with the INS. Visitors from other countries will be asked to register in
    the coming months, U.S. Justice Department officials say.

    The new National Security Entry Exit Registration System, NSEERS, replaces
    a hobbled tracking system that left the government with little data on the
    35 million people entering and leaving the country each year, including
    several of the Sept. 11 terrorists.

    U.S. officials call NSEERS a major step in their efforts to revamp the system.

    Since registration at airports and border crossings began on Sept. 11.,
    more than 14,000 foreign visitors have been fingerprinted and 179 have been
    arrested on criminal offenses unrelated to terrorism, Justice Department
    officials said.

    "This system will expand substantially America's scrutiny of those foreign
    visitors who may present an elevated national security risk," Attorney
    General John Ashcroft said recently. "And it will provide a vital line of
    defense in the war against terrorism."

    Critics continue to question how effective the program will be, saying it
    will antagonize lawful visitors and damage relations with foreign allies
    while providing little deterrent to determined terrorists.

    Some wonder why countries that are known to be hotbeds of Islamic
    fundamentalism like Pakistan and Egypt, or Saudi Arabia -- home to 15 of
    the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks -- are not included on the list.

    "It's really self defeating in a lot of ways," said Judith Golub, public
    affairs director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "The
    people most likely to do us harm are least likely to register, and it
    alienates the people in the community who are most likely to be friendly to
    us."

    Others are troubled by a lack of details about the program.

    Since Sept. 11, 2001, hundreds of foreigners, mostly from south Asian or
    Middle Eastern countries, have been jailed on immigration violations that
    previously the U.S. government had largely ignored.

    Some foreigners may be afraid to register, especially those who fall into
    the many gray areas in immigration law, such as those with expired visas
    but pending green card applications. Many fear they will be arrested and
    detained at the interview.

    "My feeling is, it's going to be an excuse that they use for the people
    that they want to round up," Newark immigration attorney Robert Frank said.

    Still, all sides agree the system badly needed fixing.

    The old system relied, in part, on airline passengers filling out small
    forms that were collected by flight crews before their plane touched down.

    At the nation's land borders, no record was made of the entrance and exits
    of millions of visitors.

    Experts say visitors on expired visas account for as much as 40 percent of
    the estimated 6 million to 9 million foreigners living illegally in the
    United States.

    Three of the terrorists in the Sept. 11 attacks were granted permission to
    enter the United States on either work or tourist visas, but the government
    had no idea that the men stayed after their visas expired.

    "It's about time the government got a handle on who's coming into the
    country," said David Ray, associate director of the Federation for American
    Immigration Reform. "It's really a common sense safeguard to protect the
    American public from those who are coming here with the idea of killing
    Americans."

    Mandated under the USA Patriot act passed by Congress, NSEERS automatically
    checks visitors' fingerprints against a database of wanted persons. It also
    requires that foreign visitors staying in this country for more than 30
    days check in with the INS and report any changes in address, employment or
    schools.

    According to an INS memo provided by the American Immigration Lawyers
    Association, registrants are quizzed on what religious or political
    organizations they belong to. Another question reads, "Are you associated
    with anyone who is potentially dangerous to the United States?"

    Hadi Jorati, a 25-year-old Iranian graduate student studying mathematics at
    Princeton University, said he had no problem answering the questions when
    he and a carload of fellow international students registered at the INS'
    Cherry Hill office earlier this month.

    What is more problematic for him and other international students, he said,
    are the longer delays in getting visas as a result of tighter background
    checks since the terrorist attacks.

    When he began studying at Princeton four years ago, it took him five weeks
    to get his visa. This year, it took 10, he said. And his wife, who was
    accepted to a graduate program in New York City, was denied permission to
    come to the United States.

    Because Jorati's visa prohibits him from traveling out of the United States
    during the school year, he cannot see his wife until May.

    "I'm fine with the registration," he said. "But these other things, these
    are gradually making me leave this country."

    "I'm not fond of my government either," he said of the Iranian government.
    "But you are not punishing the government. You are punishing myself."

  • #2
    There are immigrants, nonimmigrants and illegal immigrants. There are
    criminal aliens, political asylum seekers, and refugees. Now, the nation's
    complex immigration system has added another category by which to classify
    new arrivals: "special aliens."

    They are male visitors, including students, tourists and workers, from 18
    Middle Eastern nations that the U.S. government believes may harbor terrorists.

    Under a new law, adult men from five of those countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya,
    Sudan and Syria must report by today to a U.S. Immigration and
    Naturalization Service office to be photographed, fingerprinted and
    interviewed. If they don't show up, they can face deportation.

    The deadline is the latest benchmark in the government's efforts to
    implement a system that eventually will track all foreign visitors by 2005.

    The INS began registering special aliens on Sept. 11, the first anniversary
    of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

    Male visitors from 13 additional countries have until Jan. 10 to register
    with the INS. Visitors from other countries will be asked to register in
    the coming months, U.S. Justice Department officials say.

    The new National Security Entry Exit Registration System, NSEERS, replaces
    a hobbled tracking system that left the government with little data on the
    35 million people entering and leaving the country each year, including
    several of the Sept. 11 terrorists.

    U.S. officials call NSEERS a major step in their efforts to revamp the system.

    Since registration at airports and border crossings began on Sept. 11.,
    more than 14,000 foreign visitors have been fingerprinted and 179 have been
    arrested on criminal offenses unrelated to terrorism, Justice Department
    officials said.

    "This system will expand substantially America's scrutiny of those foreign
    visitors who may present an elevated national security risk," Attorney
    General John Ashcroft said recently. "And it will provide a vital line of
    defense in the war against terrorism."

    Critics continue to question how effective the program will be, saying it
    will antagonize lawful visitors and damage relations with foreign allies
    while providing little deterrent to determined terrorists.

    Some wonder why countries that are known to be hotbeds of Islamic
    fundamentalism like Pakistan and Egypt, or Saudi Arabia -- home to 15 of
    the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks -- are not included on the list.

    "It's really self defeating in a lot of ways," said Judith Golub, public
    affairs director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "The
    people most likely to do us harm are least likely to register, and it
    alienates the people in the community who are most likely to be friendly to
    us."

    Others are troubled by a lack of details about the program.

    Since Sept. 11, 2001, hundreds of foreigners, mostly from south Asian or
    Middle Eastern countries, have been jailed on immigration violations that
    previously the U.S. government had largely ignored.

    Some foreigners may be afraid to register, especially those who fall into
    the many gray areas in immigration law, such as those with expired visas
    but pending green card applications. Many fear they will be arrested and
    detained at the interview.

    "My feeling is, it's going to be an excuse that they use for the people
    that they want to round up," Newark immigration attorney Robert Frank said.

    Still, all sides agree the system badly needed fixing.

    The old system relied, in part, on airline passengers filling out small
    forms that were collected by flight crews before their plane touched down.

    At the nation's land borders, no record was made of the entrance and exits
    of millions of visitors.

    Experts say visitors on expired visas account for as much as 40 percent of
    the estimated 6 million to 9 million foreigners living illegally in the
    United States.

    Three of the terrorists in the Sept. 11 attacks were granted permission to
    enter the United States on either work or tourist visas, but the government
    had no idea that the men stayed after their visas expired.

    "It's about time the government got a handle on who's coming into the
    country," said David Ray, associate director of the Federation for American
    Immigration Reform. "It's really a common sense safeguard to protect the
    American public from those who are coming here with the idea of killing
    Americans."

    Mandated under the USA Patriot act passed by Congress, NSEERS automatically
    checks visitors' fingerprints against a database of wanted persons. It also
    requires that foreign visitors staying in this country for more than 30
    days check in with the INS and report any changes in address, employment or
    schools.

    According to an INS memo provided by the American Immigration Lawyers
    Association, registrants are quizzed on what religious or political
    organizations they belong to. Another question reads, "Are you associated
    with anyone who is potentially dangerous to the United States?"

    Hadi Jorati, a 25-year-old Iranian graduate student studying mathematics at
    Princeton University, said he had no problem answering the questions when
    he and a carload of fellow international students registered at the INS'
    Cherry Hill office earlier this month.

    What is more problematic for him and other international students, he said,
    are the longer delays in getting visas as a result of tighter background
    checks since the terrorist attacks.

    When he began studying at Princeton four years ago, it took him five weeks
    to get his visa. This year, it took 10, he said. And his wife, who was
    accepted to a graduate program in New York City, was denied permission to
    come to the United States.

    Because Jorati's visa prohibits him from traveling out of the United States
    during the school year, he cannot see his wife until May.

    "I'm fine with the registration," he said. "But these other things, these
    are gradually making me leave this country."

    "I'm not fond of my government either," he said of the Iranian government.
    "But you are not punishing the government. You are punishing myself."

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