Eight years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and despite repeated mandates from Congress, the United States still has no reliable system for verifying that foreign visitors have left the country.
New concern was focused on that security loophole last week, when Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year-old Jordanian who had overstayed his tourist visa, was accused in court of plotting to blow up a Dallas skyscraper.
Last year alone, 2.9 million foreign visitors on temporary visas like Mr. Smadi’s checked in to the country but never officially checked out, immigration officials said. While officials say they have no way to confirm it, they suspect that several hundred thousand of them overstayed their visas.
Over all, the officials said, about 40 percent of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States came on legal visas and overstayed.
Mr. Smadi’s case has brought renewed calls from both parties in Congress for Department of Homeland Security officials to complete a universal electronic exit monitoring system.DHS also has problems closer to home--the vulnerability of its own website to a cyberattack:
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) public-facing websites present a highly accessible point of entry and attack to its information resources, according to an Office of Inspector General report released last Thursday.
The report titled Vulnerabilities Highlight the Need for More Effective Web Security Management evaluated nine of DHS’ most frequently visited public-facing websites to determine whether DHS has implemented effective security controls and practices, examining the implementation of DHS’ required configuration settings and patch management practices.
The report was heavily redacted in order not to divulge details that could help would be malicious intruders.