The Justice Department has lost track of 62 foreigners brought into the United States under a special program which allows otherwise inadmissible individuals into the country to assist with criminal investigations, according to an audit performed by the DOJ's inspector general.
The audit spanned the end of the Obama administration into the beginning of Trump's presidency, according to the Washington Examiner's Jerry Dunleavy.
DOJ sponsors the immigration of thousands of foreign nationals who might otherwise be inadmissible to the U.S. “due to their association with criminal enterprises.”
The new report, which scrutinized these DOJ immigration sponsorship programs, said these foreign nationals are useful to law enforcement because of “their access to criminal enterprises and ability to provide testimony in support of prosecution.” But there are “significant risks” involved as well, the report said, because the people in question “may be associated with criminal activity and motivated by the ability to reside temporarily in the United States.” -Washington Examiner
The DOJ also screwed up and either didn't renew or terminate their sponsorship of a foreign national correctly - allowing the witness to "fall into an illegal status while residing in the United States."
The ham-handed handling of said individuals may result in "unnecessary, unexpected, and costly deportation of foreign nationals for whom DOJ had a continued need," according to the report, which notes that there could be "serious consequences for the investigations they were assisting."
Two mechanisms primarily used by the DOJ in order to use these crime-linked witnesses; 'significant public benefit parole' - which allows for said class of foreigners to remain in the country, and 'deferred action,' which delays deportation proceedings against a foreign national who isn't in the US legally. In rare cases, the DOJ uses three-year 'S Visas" as long as they cooperate on complex cases, and 'PL-110 sponsorship," giving permanent legal residency to foreign nationals.
The Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI, which sponsored 2,380 foreign nationals and 3,059 foreign nationals during this time frame, respectively, are the DOJ agencies most heavily involved in the programs working with foreign nationals.
The DEA used parole 1,331 times and deferred action 1,033 times during this period, while the FBI used SPBPs 1,552 times and deferred action 1,433 times. The report said that “both ATF and FBI had policies that require the sponsoring special agent to immediately notify headquarters when a foreign national absconds” but that “there were no redundant methods to ensure that an absconsion is addressed immediately.” -Washington Examiner
"DOJ components must be vigilant in exercising their responsibilities for overseeing sponsored foreign nationals to fulfill their obligations to DHS, to protect the public, and to achieve their objectives of furthering investigations and prosecutions," reads the report. "Therefore, effective oversight of these programs is essential."