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Group: Terrorism not focus of Homeland Security

Story Highlights

• Group analyzed millions of records obtained from immigration courts
• 12 of 814,073 charged in past three years faced terrorism charges
• Report also found DHS filed very few "national security" charges
• DHS spokesman calls report "ill-conceived"
From Scott Bronstein
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Claims of terrorism represented less than 0.01 percent of charges filed in recent years in immigration courts by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to a report issued Sunday by an independent research group.

This comes despite the fact the Bush administration has repeatedly asserted that fighting terrorism is the central mission of DHS.

The Transactional Records Action Clearinghouse said it analyzed millions of previously undisclosed records obtained from the immigration courts under the Freedom of Information Act.

Of the 814,073 people charged by DHS in immigration courts during the past three years, 12 faced charges of terrorism, TRAC said.

Those 12 cases represent 0.0015 percent of the total number of cases filed.

"The DHS claims it is focused on terrorism. Well that's just not true," said David Burnham, a TRAC spokesman. "Either there's no terrorism, or they're terrible at catching them. Either way it's bad for all of us."

The TRAC analysis also found that DHS filed a minuscule number of what are called "national security" charges against people in the immigration courts. The report stated that 114, or 0.014 percent of the total of roughly 800,000 individuals charged were charged with national security violations.

TRAC reported more than 85 percent of the charges involved more common immigration violations such as not having a valid immigrant visa, overstaying a student visa or entering the United States without an inspection.

According to the report by TRAC, which is affiliated with Syracuse University, the results show that there is an "apparent gap between DHS rhetoric about its role in fighting terrorism and what it actually has been doing."

DHS spokesman Russ Knocke called the TRAC report "ill-conceived" and said the group "lacked a grasp of the DHS mission."

Knocke said that, by clamping down on all forms of immigration, DHS has made it difficult for terrorists to come to the United States.


People work at the National Operations Center for the Department of Homeland Security. A research group says the DHS is not focused on terrorism.



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