Through a multi-layered, risk based system, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has taken significant steps to ensure that immigration benefits are not granted to individuals who pose a threat to national security.
Combating Immigration Fraud
Visa Security Program (VSP)
Through VSP, which did not exist on 9/11, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with Department of State (DOS) concurrence, deploys trained special agents overseas to high-risk visa activity posts to identify potential terrorist and criminal threats before they reach the U.S. The VSP is currently deployed to 19 posts in 15 countries.
Strengthening Identification Verification
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
In 2009, DHS successfully implemented the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) for land and sea travel to the U.S., requiring that U.S., Mexican, and Canadian citizens present a passport or other secure travel document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. Prior to WHTI, U.S. or Canadian travelers could present any one of numerous documents and simply make an oral declaration of citizenship. In 2005, DHS checked five percent of all passengers crossing land borders by vehicles against law enforcement databases. Today, due to WHTI, the national query rate is over 97 percent.
DHS and DOS have worked with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom to develop routine sharing of biometric information collected for immigration purposes. To date, this effort has identified many cases of routine immigration fraud, as well as dangerous people traveling under false identities.