A new report from the Department of Homeland Security says that 73% of individuals convicted of terrorism-related charges in the U.S. over the last 15 years were foreign born. And twenty-seven percent of them had become naturalized citizens. In all, 549 people were convicted of terrorism related charges in the U.S. between Sept. 11, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2016. One hundred and forty-eight had become naturalized citizens and 147 were born in the U.S.
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the numbers underscore the need to be very clear about who’s coming into the country. She said the threat represents a clear and present danger to the U.S. and that it’s important to not only implement the initiatives President Trump has issued over the last year but to also work with Congress to close loopholes that prevent the removal of suspected terrorists from the U.S.
She also said that the U.S. needs to continue to enhance the screening and vetting of individuals. When asked whether people that come to the U.S. should assume that they’re under permanent surveillance, she said no, but that screening and vetting is a normal part of the naturalization process. “It’s a very natural part of becoming a citizen. Up until the point that you’re a citizen, we wanna continue to make sure we understand who you are and why you’re here,” Neilsen said.
Commenting on DACA, Nielsen also said that it will not be a priority of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to remove DACA recipients from the U.S. should a permanent fix to that program not be found before the program expires. “It’s not gonna be a priority of the [ICE] to prioritize their removal. I’ve said that before. That’s not the – that’s not the policy of DHS,” she said.
She added that that means DACA recipients must remain compliant with DACA requirements. “If you are a DACA that’s compliant with your registration, meaning you haven’t committed a crime, and you in fact are registered, you’re not priority of enforcement for ICE should the program end.”
Asked whether that would be in perpetuity, she said yes. “That’d be in perpetuity. That, of course, that means you can’t commit a crime” Nielsen said.