DHS Lost Track of Dozens of 'Sponsored' Foreign Nationals

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Posted: Jun 13, 2019 12:15 PM
DHS Lost Track of Dozens of 'Sponsored' Foreign Nationals

The Department of Justice Inspector General has released a report revealing dozens of foreign nationals receiving sponsorships in the United States have disappeared. Thousands more did not have proper information filed with the Department of Homeland Security. 

"In February 2018, DHS identified over 1,000 DOJ-sponsored foreign nationals for whom DHS did not have current information.  As of August 2018, DHS was still seeking information regarding 665 sponsorships.  In addition, during our audit, we identified a total of 62 sponsored," the report states. "We believe that all DOJ components need to improve their execution of the responsibilities integral to the sponsorship programs, including enhancing the policies for monitoring the locations and activities of sponsored foreign nationals and the management information systems used within the program.  We believe this will help prevent lapses in sponsorships that can impact investigative progress and help mitigate the risk that these individuals abscond from DOJ control."

Many times, foreign nationals who can be used to help U.S. federal law enforcement with investigations are sponsored in the country. The IG report notes the process for sponsorship can be used for fraudulent purposes, posing a risk to the American public.  

"Significant risks accompany the sponsoring of foreign nationals for use in law enforcement investigations because these individuals may be associated with criminal activity and motivated only by the ability to temporarily reside in the United States," the report states. "We are concerned that the monitoring policies and practices currently executed by the DOJ components that sponsor foreign nationals do not adequately mitigate the risks associated with bringing individuals into the United States who may have criminal backgrounds or involvement in disreputable activities, or who may be associated with such individuals.  Therefore, we do not have assurance that the components have adequatelyexecuted their monitoring responsibilities to mitigate the risks involved with sponsoring foreign nationals and to fulfill their obligation to protect the public."

"DOJ certifies to DHS that it assumes the responsibility to monitor sponsored foreign nationals’ location and criminal history, as well as to supervise foreign nationals’ activities.  However, our audit revealed a total of 62 foreign nationals who absconded from DOJ control and for whom DHS was not always immediately notified as required," it continues. "Although headquarters-based sponsorship files indicated that the DOJ components were performing monitoring activities for foreign nationals they sponsored, there is a population of sponsored foreign nationals who are not subject to any routine monitoring requirements due to weaknesses in the monitoring policies at some DOJ components."  

Further, when sponsorships have ended and not renewed by DHS, foreign nationals have been allowed to stay in the U.S. without proper legal status. 

"We found 18 instances in which DOJ components did not request sponsorship renewal or termination in a timely manner and therefore let the foreign nationals fall into an illegal status while residing in the United States," the report states. "This lapse could result in the unnecessary, unexpected, and costly deportation of foreign nationals for whom DOJ had a continued need, which could have serious consequences for the investigations they were assisting."