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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Follow-up Report on the Visa Waiver Program
Report No. I-2002-002
December 2001


CONCLUSION

Our follow-up review shows that the INS's implementation of the recommendations from the original OIG report fails to provide systematic, consistent, and timely availability of missing passport information in TECS/IBIS. We recommend that the INS should renew its efforts to ensure compliance with policies regarding:

  1. Requirements that all passport numbers should be queried in the lookout system during primary inspection.

  2. Reporting procedures and responsibilities for reporting information on missing passports, especially blank passports.

  3. Procedures for entering missing passport data into the lookout system.

  4. Procedures and precedence for entering passport numbers into the lookout system when a lookout record is created.

These recommendations were previously made in the original OIG report. In addition to reissuing this guidance to the field, INS must take aggressive follow-up actions to ensure that the field follows the guidance.

To provide for effective and reliable entry of information on missing passports into the lookout system, the INS needs to revisit this recommendation to determine whether the Lookout Unit, INS personnel in the field, some combination of these groups, or another INS unit is the most appropriate mechanism to perform this crucial national security function.

The INS has taken the initiative to bring law enforcement concerns to the forefront of the VWP and has proposed ways of augmenting the law enforcement focus of the program. For example, the INS has requested making countries more accountable for complying with VWP requirements, such as by proposing that VWP countries must forward relevant data on blocks of blank lost or stolen passports within five days. The INS also will play a significant role in upcoming reviews of the passport security procedures and national security implications of six VWP participants. 27

Although not unanimous, some INS officials we interviewed agreed with the conclusion in the original OIG report that the VWP poses a potentially significant risk to national security. However, proponents of the VWP argue that the program promotes tourism and helps to maintain constructive diplomatic relations, which make the continued existence of the VWP likely. Therefore, the INS's goal should be to manage the VWP better to identify and prevent the entry of those aliens who may threaten U.S. national security. This goal is especially critical in light of the events of September 11, 2001.


Footnote

  1. The six countries to be reviewed are Argentina, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, and Uruguay.


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