|San Diego Union-Tribune
June 15, 2001
Report: INS lapses in deporting criminals endanger flying public
By JOE CANTLUPE
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON -- The Immigration and Naturalization Service has "placed
the traveling public at risk" by not properly escorting violent criminals during
deportation flights on commercial airlines, Justice Department investigators
A review of 158 cases in the past two years showed that immigration officials
often ignored the INS's own policies designed to properly monitor criminals
transported overseas, according to the report by the Justice Department's
Office of Inspector General.
In some incidents, the INS did not screen potentially dangerous criminals
before deporting them, or neglected to assign agents to guard criminals who
may have posed a threat to the public, the report said.
Investigators reviewed flights handled by INS district offices in Atlanta,
Baltimore, Chicago and New York.
The investigation concluded that although no violent incidents were reported,
"the INS placed the traveling public at potential risk because it did not
consistently follow its established escort policy," said Glenn A. Fine, the
Justice Department's inspector general.
Fine recommended that INS improve its policies and coordinate deportations
with other U.S. agencies and foreign governments.
INS officials said they share the concerns.
"Wherever possible, we are moving aggressively to comply with the inspector
general's recommendations and make appropriate modifications to our escort
policy," said INS spokeswoman Karen Kraushaar.
In 1999 and 2000, the INS deported about 30,000 criminal foreigners, most
of them Mexican nationals transported by bus. About 9,000 non-Mexicans
were flown home -- overwhelmingly on civilian aircraft.
The inspector general's report found:
A sexual offender from Santo Domingo was deported from Newark, N.J.,
to the Dominican Republic without INS escorts.
A criminal firearms dealer and rapist was flown without any INS supervision
from Miami to Belize.
A Kenyan sex offender was escorted by INS agents on only part of the
deportation trip from Atlanta to Nairobi. INS agents returned to the United
States after the first leg of the trip, which ended in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The offender was allowed to travel alone the rest of the way.
The INS procedures were put in place in 1998 after Copley News Service
disclosed problems with criminal deportees on commercial flights.