“U.S.visas: Everywhere you terrorists want to be.” That was how Jay Leno spoofed America’s lax visa issuance policies after the September 11 attacks. Things have improved marginally over the past two years, but America’s front door still remains too easily accessible to murderous foreign menaces from the Middle East—and around the globe.
• Watch Michelle on Hannity & Colmes, Part 2
Since 9/11, the State Department has increased background checks on the eligibility of anyone seeking entry to the United States. The Visas Condor program requires consular officers to obtain security clearances for all male visa applicants between the ages of six and 45 from 26 high-risk countries, including Pakistan, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia (where, of course, 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers obtained their visas). The Visas Mantis program requires security clearances for people studying or working in sensitive areas.
But while background screening measures and interview requirements have increased, the number of consular officers overseeing these counterterrorism functions has barely budged. Less than 900 consular officers worldwide preside over eight million visa applications a year. Moreover, despite heightened visa security, at least 105 men who appeared on terrorist watch lists still managed to obtain visas even after 9/11. Dozens of these terrorist suspects may yet be in the country today because revocation of a visa by the State Department is still not grounds for deportation!
More bad news: The State Department’s Diversity Visa Lottery, an insecure program that has randomly given away thousands of visas to applicants from terrorist-friendly nations including Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, remains in place. There is still no comprehensive national exit-entry system to ensure that foreign visitors (such tourists and businessmen) leave when they are required to leave. And the Homeland Security Department’s foreign student tracking system has been plagued by technical difficulties and protests from politically correct college administrators.