The Barack Obama Administration recently announced that border guards at United States Ports of Entry (POE) will begin screening aliens arriving from certain countries based on specific information about threats to the USA. The immigration attorneys at Los Angeles’ Fong & Aquino immigration law firm are advocates for national security balanced against sensible protections for civil rights. We hope this change will reduce the number of unwarranted, unreasonable, and (usually) unfriendly challenges to certain arriving visitors.
Since the New York terrorist attack in September 2001, the USA has maintained a list of approximately fourteen countries (the so-called “group of fourteen”) which are considered to encourage state-sponsored terrorism, or which are believed to provide assistance to terrorists. The US would not even officially name the specific countries, or confirm the exact number of countries, on the list. All citizens of one of these countries — of any gender, any age, any social class, any educational level, for any reason — would be subjected to additional interrogation by US Border Guards.
The newly-announced change sets up a system which uses intelligence information and threat assessment — about specific persons, specific targets, and specific descriptions, to identify passengers who might have a link to terrorism. Quite properly, those persons would be subjected to additional scrutiny. Others who do not meet the more reasoned threat profiles would be allowed to enter the USA in the way of other visitors.
For example: most people in the know would say that the Islamic Republic of Iran was part of the group of fourteen. All citizens from Iran — absolutely all — would be pulled aside and interrogated at POEs. Under the new system, if the US has specific information about a 26-year old male Iranian student, or an Iranian woman with a certain name, or even someone with a partial passport number, then persons meeting those descriptions will be pulled aside. This allows border guards to focus their efforts on persons about whom the USA has specific threat-related information. –jcf