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Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice

MONDAY, JULY 22, 2002
(202) 514-2008
TDD (202) 514-1888


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Attorney General announced two steps to increase the security of the United States. First, the Attorney General sent a letter to the Secretary of State on July 12, 2001, requesting that he designate nine groups as "terrorist organizations" within the meaning of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001. Once a designation is made, aliens who are affiliated with these groups will be barred from entering the United States. Second, the Attorney General announced new measures to ensure compliance with the existing statutory requirement for noncitizens to report changes of address to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for enforcement and other purposes.

"Designating these nine groups as terrorist organizations will help secure our borders against those who would come to the United States to commit terrorist acts, or to raise funds to finance terrorist operations," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "Americans have always welcomed the freedom-loving people of the world to our shores. But terrorists must not be allowed to use our hospitality as a weapon." The Attorney General added, "By clarifying the existing requirement that noncitizens report their address to the INS, we are able to increase our ability to locate quickly an alien if removal proceedings must be initiated."

Under new authorities made available by the USA PATRIOT Act, groups can be listed as "terrorist organizations" if they provide "material support"—including financial support— to further terrorist activity. Also, groups that plan, commit, or gather information for terrorist attacks qualify as "terrorist organizations." As a result of the designations, law enforcement will be able to prevent noncitizens with ties to these groups from entering the United States. Aliens will be denied entry if they raise funds for, or encourage others to join, a "terrorist organization."

The 9 groups to be designated include organizations that have raised funds to finance international terrorist networks, as well as groups that have carried out terrorist attacks worldwide. The groups formally will be listed as "terrorist organizations" when the Secretary of State publishes notice of the designation in the Federal Register. This request is the result of extensive cooperation between the Justice Department and the State Department, and the State Department has pledged to move forward with the designations expeditiously.

The Attorney General's letter marks the second occasion on which the Departments of Justice and State have worked together to designate "terrorist organizations" under the USA PATRIOT Act. On December 7 of last year, the Secretary of State listed 39 such groups in response to a similar request from the Attorney General.

The new measures relating to noncitizen reporting requirements are also an important step to enhance border security. For 50 years, the law has required aliens to report each change of address to the Attorney General within 10 days, and provides penalties for willful failures. Unfortunately, far too many fail to comply with this existing requirement. As a result, the INS does not have current address information for many noncitizens who have entered the United States - whether as temporary visitors, as applicants for asylum, or for other purposes. This impairs the INS's ability to institute immigration enforcement proceedings against those aliens whom the INS has determined should be removed from the United States. Moreover, unless it has a current address, INS may be unable to contact some aliens regarding any benefits for which they applied.

Accordingly, the Attorney General is publishing a proposed rule to revise INS regulations and forms to ensure that noncitizens are fully advised about the need to provide the INS with their current address, as required by law. The new regulations and forms will facilitate the INS's ability to keep in contact with an alien who has applied for immigration benefits, and make it easier to locate an alien if removal proceedings must be initiated.

This rule is a further step in the Department's ongoing efforts to improve its ability to track noncitizens within the United States and complements the comprehensive entry-exit tracking system that Congress mandated be in place by 2005.