Three Out of Four International Terrorism Offenders Are Foreign-Born

John Moore  Getty Images

A new Justice Department report issued Tuesday suggests that, since 9/11, 73 percent of terrorism convictions in the United States have involved individuals who were born in other countries. It found 549 individuals charged with terrorism.

DHS and DOJ issued the assessment of terrorism-related activity data in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's Executive Order 13780: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.

Congress is scrambling to put together a bipartisan immigration bill that will allow 700,000 residents who came to the U.S. as children to remain legally in coming weeks, and could impact migration to the country for generations to come.

Breaking down the 549 individuals by citizenship status at the time of their respective convictions reveals that: 254 were not USA citizens; 148 were foreign-born, naturalized and received US citizenship; and, 147 were US citizens by birth. The Fordham University Law School National Security center director, Karen Greenberg said that the evidence had been overshadowed by the report's lengthy timeline.

"It's an awfully thin report for an absolutely important topic", she said.

The report considers only those incidents motivated by worldwide terrorist groups - so instances of domestic terrorism are not counted.

"If someone comes to the United States and becomes a terrorist 20 years later, that's not a vetting problem, that's an assimilation problem", Inserra said.

And while the report highlighted cases in which the offender entered through the diversity lottery or because of family ties to legal immigrants, the White House official could not say how many people in each of those categories had been convicted of terrorism. Extradited terrorism suspects are not immigrants, she said, and should be taken out of the sample.

"There were 549 individuals convicted of global terrorism-related offenses in US federal court".

While the report does not contain information regarding the number of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses committed by individuals who are the children of foreign-born individuals, the White House said terrorist attacks carried out by children of foreign-born individuals include the attack in Orlando by Omar Mateen, which killed 49 people and the attack in San Bernadino, California by Syed Rizwan Farook, which killed 14 people and injured 22 others. "I can assure you that it is more than just a few cherry picked cases that are represented here in this report".

The thing is, the report is not just confusing it is also incredibly misleading. This finding has boosted the drive by the Trump administration to have stricter legislation and regulations in place regarding immigration.

Department of Homeland Security police guard the entrance to the Los Angeles Immigration Court building where protesters gathered following a rally by supporters of United States born daughters of undocumented Romulo Avelia-Gonzalez, who was arrested by ICE agents last week, in downtown Los Angeles, California on March 6, 2017.

Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) called the report an attempt "to vilify the immigrant community and justify an exclusionary immigration policy", adding in their statement, "The American people will not be fooled by such naked bigotry, and we should not allow this administration to get away with its abuse of the facts to further its extremist, xenophobic agenda".

"If we're letting in already-radicalized people", then immigration policies "might well be worth blaming", Geltzer said.

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