Almost half of the Islamic terrorists who hijacked planes in the United States on September 11, 2001, overstayed their visas due to an immigration loophole that remains open, used by more than half a million foreign nationals every year.
Nineteen terrorists were directly involved with the 9/11 attacks that murdered nearly 3,000 Americans and injured more than 6,000 others. All 19 arrived in the U.S. legally, with 16 obtaining tourist visas and three others obtaining business and student visas.
Seven of the 19 terrorists overstayed their visas, either before the attacks or at the time of the attacks. None were deported, due to a lack of interior immigration enforcement.
Those seven terrorist visa overstays include:
- Hani Hasan Hanjour of Saudi Arabia
- Nawaf al-Hamzi of Saudi Arabia
- Mohamed Atta of Egypt
- Satam al-Suqami of Saudi Arabia
- Waleed al-Shehri of Saudi Arabia
- Marwan al-Shehhi of the United Arab Emirates
- Ahmed al-Ghamdi of Saudi Arabia
Despite the 9/11 Commission urging major reforms, the lack of enforcement has gone mostly unchanged, with minor changes thanks to the Trump administration. The most significant moves to date have been the president’s constitutional travel ban and cuts to the refugee resettlement program.
For instance, though the number of visa overstays in Fiscal Year 2019 was reduced compared to the year before, more than 676,000 foreign nationals overstayed their visas last year.
The immigration controls recommended by the 9/11 Commission have yet to be implemented, 15 years later. https://t.co/yRv17p1lwH
— John Binder
(@JxhnBinder) September 11, 2019
About half of all the nation’s 11 million to 22 million illegal aliens arrive on visas, but eventually overstay, and the majority are not deported by federal immigration officials. The Department of Homeland Security has noted their progress in recent years to counter visa overstays through the use of a biometric entry-exit system:
Through the use of advanced biometrics, the ability to confirm traveler identity at border crossings has improved. This has increased the ability to identify overstays. To date, CBP has biometrically confirmed over 30,000 Out-of-Country Overstays. [Emphasis added]
Of the more than 676,000 visa overstays last year, more than 320,000 arrived in the U.S. from non-Visa Waiver Program countries. These are countries that the U.S. does not allow to send their nationals for up to 90 days without visas.
While the U.S. no longer allows nationals or recent travelers to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen to participate in the Visa Waiver Program, recent travelers to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates — where the terrorists arrived from — do not have to secure visas to travel to the U.S. if they live in a Visa Waiver Program country.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.