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Mr. EDSON. Not fingerprints, except on the Mexican border. Mr. GIBBONS. Mexico City is the only consular office that does a fingerprint check or fingerprint documentation.
Mr. EDSON. And Mexico City and our border posts along the Mexican border.
Mr. GIBBONS. Let me go to the INS. What information is available on these individuals to our border guards that are standing security on our borders? How do they know when somebody presents them with a document that it isn't false, that they are the right person, and this person is not a terrorist on one of our watch lists, whether it is NAILS or any other system?
Mr. GREENE. There are a couple of things that have happened that have improved that. One now is our access to the consular database that allows us to pull up a picture and a copy of the nonimmigrant visa application as it was executed overseas at the time the visa was issued.
Mr. GIBBONS. That is current on every border crossing?
Mr. GREENE. That is current on every border crossing, every port of entry. We also now are incorporating the IDENT system, which is the two-print identification system, into the IBIS system. We are expanding that usage. So certainly, as was indicated by my State Department colleagues, along the southern border we can do that identification now at ports of entry as well as between ports of entry, and that is expanding to the northern border.
Mr. GIBBONS. Going back to the consular question, let me ask you a question. Local law enforcement agencies have information about individuals that may go to, A, their reattempt to get a visa if they've left the country. Is that information inputted into the INS system? If so, how is it inputted? And how long does it take for that information to get there?
Mr. EDSON. This actually might be a question better addressed by my INS colleagues.
Mr. GREENE. Our NAILS system, which is the primary lookout system for the INS, is input primarily by field agents-either deportation officers, inspectors, or special agents-based upon information that they get from local jurisdictions with respect to convictions and facts that might disqualify them from being able to enter the United States again. So that system goes in and I believe it is refreshed up into IBIS within 72 hours.
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Greene, how many nonimmigrant aliens are there in the United States today?
Mr. GREENE. I don't know, sir. I know that it could be as high as a quarter of a billion that come in annually. I mentioned earlier, it's half a billion transactions every year at our ports of entry; that is, airports, seaports and land border ports. And if you cut out the commuters and the returning citizens and so forth, it comes down to about a quarter of a billion. The nonimmigrants could be half of that.
We may in fact be able to give you numbers of the number of nonimmigrants who are admitted on a yearly basis, but that would be historical data. I don't know what it is today at this moment.
Mr. GIBBONS. The answer is we don't know.
Mr. GREENE. That's correct.
Mr. BOEHLERT. What is the estimate of that 250 million nonimmigrant aliens in the United States that are out of status?
Mr. GREENE. Again I don't think we know that. We don't know the answer. The information that we have, the systems that we have relied upon over the last 20 years, are simply inadequate to give us an accurate picture.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Wouldn't you think this would be rather important information to have?
Mr. GREENE. It is, absolutely, and it is information we're attempting to address by establishing this NSEERS process which will give us an effective biometrically-driven entry/exit system that will allow us to determine who has come into the United States and who has left.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Which leads me to the NSEERS program. On page 4 of your testimony you say, under NSEERS, INS is fingerprinting and photographing nonimmigrant aliens who may potentially pose a national security risk upon their arrival in the United States. "Who may potentially pose," is that a judgment call or is this all nonimmigrant aliens?
Mr. GREENE. It's not all nonimmigrant aliens at this point. NSEERS is being implemented on a phased basis. So what we started at some port of entries and what is fully implemented today-as of today at all of our ports of entry is the simple registration process under the NSEERS system. That involves nationals of five countries who the Attorney General has designated are either state sponsors of terrorism or require special registration as a result of this. It actually builds on a system that has been in place for a number of different countries for more than four years. It is the first of a system or of a set of steps that will allow us to fully implement an NSEERS system for all nonimmigrants, but the special registration part deals strictly at this point with nonimmigrants about whom the United States has a special concern. Mr. BOEHLERT. You're striving toward 100 percent.
Mr. GREENE. That's correct.
Mr. BOEHLERT. And what's the anticipated date to achieve that 100 percent?
Mr. GREENE. I am not sure it's settled yet. It's an interplay between how quickly we can do it and how much it will cost.
Mr. BOEHLERT. You don't have an idea-two years, five years, ten years?
Mr. GREENE. I don't have an idea, sir.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Wouldn't that be a good idea to have that idea? Mr. GREENE. Yes, it would.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Could you provide the committee in a timely fashion some specifics to my line of questions?
Mr. GREENE. I'd be happy to.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Under what we already have in place, it's a small fraction of a percent of what we hope to achieve. I am just trying to think-none of the hijackers, the 19, would have been caught up in this NSEERS system? Maybe one or two of them.
Mr. GREENE. It's unclear because, in addition to the five countries, there is also a series of discretionary registrations that might
have caught some of them, but it would be speculative to say. We have roughly
Mr. BOEHLERT. We have roughly 250 million nonimmigrant aliens in the country and we don't know how many of them are out of status.
Two things. I think we should know the answers to those questions. There doesn't seem to be a bell that rings anyplace or some sort of mechanism that's triggered that would indicate someone is out of status. We don't have the foggiest idea if some of these nonimmigrant aliens are still here or someplace else. I think what we are learning is we know what we don't know, and what we don't know is a hell of a lot.
Mr. GREENE. I think that's right. Systems were not designed to provide a foolproof way of tracking nonimmigrants who came into the United States. And remember that according to INS estimates, only 50 percent of the people who are considered to be illegal residents in this country come from nonimmigrant visas. I mean the threat, as you know, from-has always been conceived of unrestricted immigration along the southern border.
Mr. BOEHLERT. I am well aware of that.
Mr. GREENE. That has been pretty much where the focus has been for a long time, and it was really the events of the attacks that prompted us to look in a very concentrated way about how do we improve the systems that can track and monitor the people who are coming in here with legal visas.
Mr. BOEHLERT. But we think we have something to improve it, but we don't have any idea how much it is going to cost or when it is going to be implemented. I don't mean to be sort of argumentative.
Mr. GREENE. No, sir, and I don't mean to leave you the impression we don't know. I know what I don't know, and I know the discussions are going on now about how to adjust pacing to finance to the amount of money. We will just give you a full briefing on that when I get back and find out what that is.
Mr. BOEHLERT. I can't expect you to know everything. It would be comforting to me if you had a better idea on this particular one. Mr. GREENE. And I apologize to you on that.
Mr. BOEHLERT. No apologies are in order. We are all on the same team trying for the same thing. We are trying to develop foolproof systems across-the-board. I just want to be helpful.
Mr. GREENE. We can give you a very thorough briefing on that. Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman GRAHAM. Thank you, Congressman Boehlert.
We will now start a third round. I would like to use the history of Khalid al-Mihdhar to probe a few of my questions. Al-Mihdhar was one of the participants in that January 2000 summit of alQa'ida that was held in Malaysia. He then entered into the United States two or three weeks thereafter, and after a brief stay in Los Angeles, moved to San Diego. He was in San Diego by February of 2000.
To follow up on Congresswoman Pelosi's question about what would we do if we had someone who had suspect background in terms of being a terrorist who happened to be in a community with
a major U.S. military facility, well, we now have that situation, someone who we surveilled at a summit of terrorists who is now in a community with major U.S. military interests.
Was whoever was responsible for security of places like the San Diego Naval Air Station and whoever would be responsible for civilian law enforcement in the San Diego area, were they notified of the presence of a person who was a very highly suspect for terrorist activities individual? Do you know, Mr. Pease?
Mr. PEASE. If you are talking about August of 2001
Chairman GRAHAM. In February of 2000, when they arrived in San Diego.
Mr. PEASE. In February of 2000, absolutely not.
Chairman GRAHAM. Why would neither the Department of Defense officials or a local government official have been notified of the presence in their community of someone who just a few weeks earlier had been a participant in a summit of terrorists?
Mr. PEASE. You are asking basically the same question as why do we not have a watch list at the time. I think we covered that in
separate decision made to share it with some rather than others.
We do have our record traffic that says that the visa information, the multiple entry visa information, was passed to the FBI in January of 2001, but that was the extent of our sharing at that time on that particular incident.
Chairman GRAHAM. That was ten months after.
Mr. PEASE. Excuse me, I said 2001. I meant January of 2000. But that was the extent of our sharing at the time on this particular case.
Chairman GRAHAM. Assuming that someone was alert to the characteristics that I have just described, known not only as just a garden variety terrorist, but someone who was high enough up to be invited to this high level meeting in Malaysia who is now in a major U.S. city which happens to also be a very significant defense establishment, if someone were focused on that set of facts and alert, what would they be expected to have done?
Mr. PEASE. I can tell you that under today's standards, we would indeed put out a published intelligence report on Mihdhar's travel and the meeting in Malaysia that indeed would have gone to both Department of Defense and the regional command, in this case Pacific Command, that would have been responsible for the local security of a naval facility in San Diego.
Chairman GRAHAM. Would it have gone to the civilian law enforcement agency?
Mr. PEASE. Indeed, it would have gone to FBI and several other departments.
Chairman GRAHAM. Including Commissioner Norris' counterpart in San Diego?
Mr. PEASE. From our own practices, for that type of information, especially when we would not know whether Mihdhar-where Mihdhar was entering into the United States, it would be up to the FBI to decide which amongst the local police departments would be getting further information. That has been their call. That system
Chairman GRAHAM. I want to ask one more question about Mihdhar. Mihdhar left the United States in the fall of 2000 and in June of 2001 he was in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, where he applied for either a new or renewal of the passport which he had had which had lapsed some time previously.
On his visa application, he was asked this question: Whether he had ever been in the United States. He checked "no." Now, he not only had been in the United States, but he had come through the Los Angeles airport with a valid U.S. passport at that time.
What was the gap in the system that did not pick up the fact that he had just committed perjury by falsely answering the question as to whether he had ever been in the United States, when we must have had some documentation that he had been in the United States, because he had come through our immigration system.
Mr. EDSON. When he applied, we would routinely have searched his old passport for travel patterns. But when he applied for this visa, based now on the automated record, we can only assume he didn't submit the previous passport which would have shown that entry into the United States, so we had nothing in any of our systems to record the entry into the U.S., the departure from the U.S., that would have shown he was on the application.
Chairman GRAHAM. Excuse me for taking another question. Did the people in Jidda have access to the information that this man had previously held a U.S. passport?
Mr. EDSON. Yes, they would have known he had a previous U.S. visa.
Chairman GRAHAM. Is it standard procedure when a person is applying for a new visa or a new passport, the previous one having expired, to ask to see the previous passport?
Mr. EDSON. Sure. If it comes to the attention of the interviewing officer, it would have been standard. It was about three years prior to this reapplication.
Chairman GRAHAM. Is that a standard question that is asked, have you ever had a U.S. passport?
Mr. EDSON. Have you ever had a previous U.S. visa? It is on the application form.
Chairman GRAHAM. But would it have been possible within our data system to have confirmed the correctness of the answer to that question?
Mr. EDSON. Yes.
Chairman GRAHAM. But you assume it wasn't checked in this case?
Mr. EDSON. Right. I would assume it wasn't checked in this case. Chairman GRAHAM. Congressman Goss.
Chairman Goss. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In the area of breaking news, I have just been informed that there is a 10-year-old who is having a birthday tonight who is maybe a starting pitcher on a local baseball team whose mother happens to be sitting about three feet behind me. I think it would be very important that we wish Brian Hill a happy birthday and make sure his mother is there at the opening of the game. So my questions will be short. The first pitch is at 6:00, which is good news for our panel.