Justice Department Policy known as the National Security Entry-Exit System is being implemented by the INS, Here is the story:
Foreign visitors from some countries in the Middle East and North Africa is being expanded to include men from Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally and the home country of 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers.
An Immigration and Naturalization Service memo obtained by The Associated Press directs immigration inspectors registering aliens to include men, ages 16 to 45, from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen, starting October 1.
A spokesman at the Saudi Embassy did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press.
The Justice Department already had begun registering visitors from Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Libya on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. As part of the registration, the foreigners are required to provide fingerprints, photographs and details about plans in the United States.
"It is imperative that the officers remain vigilant and verify the age of all males from these three countries in order to identify properly those who are subject to special registration," says the September 5 memo, sent by Johnny Williams, the INS' head of field operations.
The memo was sent to INS offices to explain how to implement the Justice Department policy known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System.
Officials from the Justice Department did not immediately return a telephone call for comment.
Registration is required on arrival to and departure from the United States. The foreigners also must be interviewed at an INS office for stays of more than 30 days and notify the INS within 10 days of any change of residence, employment or academic institution.
The memo says inspectors also can register visitors for national security reasons who they determine are worth monitoring. The memo says inspectors should consider whether the visitor has made an unexplained trip to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan, Indonesia or Malaysia or the visitor's explanation for the trip lacks credibility.
Among other things, inspectors will be told to consider registering foreign visitors who previously overstayed a U.S. visa or whose behavior, demeanor or answers indicate that the person may be a security threat, the memo says.
The additional scrutiny for Saudi nationals follows introduction of stricter rules for Saudis who apply for visas to the United States. The visa paperwork formerly handled by travel agents now requires interviews at consular offices. The scrutiny also comes as President Bush tries to build support for a U.S. attack on Iraq, for which Saudi Arabia has said it will not allow use of its territory unless the attack is under U.N. auspices.
Rep. George Gekas, R-Pennsylvania, chairman of the House Judiciary immigration subcommittee, said the registration program seeks to weed out people that Saudi Arabia and other countries are arresting and cracking down on.
"It's a natural extension of what is already occurring with respect to the war on terrorism, which is separate and apart from our relationships with the governments that are involved in this new round of alien registration," Gekas said.
Is this comforting progress, or over reaction?
How do you feel?