Friday, July 23, 2004

Return of the Malkin

Via Expat Yank, here's yet more nonsense from the ever-so-predictable Michelle Malkin.

WNBC investigative reporter Scott Weinberger reported on Joe Scarborough's MSNBC show tonight that the 14 Syrians on Northwest Flight 327 ALL had expired visas. He said his sources told him that law enforcement officials xeroxed the men's paperwork without looking at the dates. The visas had expired nearly a month earlier, according to Weinberger.

This does not give me much confidence in the background checks that the Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, and LAPD may or may not have conducted on the men before letting them walk away. Would you trust the terrorism investigation of officials who apparently neglected to verify whether these men--coming from a designated state sponsor of terrorism, flying on a day on which Department of Homeland Security officials had issued a warning about a possible terrorist attack--WERE EVEN IN THE COUNTRY LEGALLY?!?!?!

If Weinberger's reporting is accurate, I won't be surprised. The 14 men join a club of at least an estimated 2.3 million illegal visa overstayers currently living in the U.S. today. Until September 11, 2001, the Visa Overstayers Club also included "student" Hani Hanjour and "businessmen and tourist" Nawaf al-Hazmi and Satam al-Suqami.
This is so laden with stupidity I find it hard to decide where to begin. How exactly does diverting precious manpower to hunting down visa overstayers help Homeland Security? Even if the authorities were to start throwing out visa overstayers at every opportunity, does Malkin imagine that there's some law of nature binding terrorists to wait until their visas have expired before committing outrages? It doesn't seem to occur to her that overburdened government employees with a mandate to put counterterrorism above all else just might consider hunting down swarthy visa regulation violaters a pointless diversion, nor that the sorts of measures that would be required to root out all of the "2.3 million illegal visa overstayers" she claims (without any references whatsoever) to be staying in the U.S, might actually end up hurting the counterterrorism effort, by making those overstayers and their protectors who might have information to share with the authorities reluctant to come forward.

This is Michelle Malkin we're talking about, and I suspect her thought processes don't reach that far. Instead, as soon as she saw the words "overstay", she immediately thought "illegals", and like a Pavlovian dog, the anti-foreigner drool immediately began to issue forth. Any opportunity to push a "seal our borders" agenda, however marginal, must not be overlooked as far as the likes of her are concerned. Disgusting.

POSTSCRIPT: Here's a blog post that debunks another bogus claim Michelle Malkin's been hard at work propagating, namely that there's some sort of regulation on the books preventing the secondary questioning of more than two people of a given ethnic extraction on a given flight. First the whole "Terror in the skies" nonsense is shown to be racist hysteria, and now this too turns out to be a lie; is there anything that issues from this woman's pen that can be believed?

POST-POSTSCRIPT: Winds of Change's Armed Liberal has a post up that ought to prove a revelation. It turns out that there was a threat on the flight Annie Jacobsen was on, only the threat was ... Annie Jacobsen! Here's what one news source has to say:
LOS ANGELES | July 22, 2004 – Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger, "overreacted," to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS.
The passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service.
The biggest threat to airline security isn't "PC liberals" who are afraid of taking muscular measures against swarthy Middle-Easterners, but panic-mongers like Annie Jacobsen and Michelle Malkin. Perhaps someone ought to remind them of what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said after another outrage some 63* 71 years ago - "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

*Corrected on the advice of Ken Hirsch.

POST-POST-POSTSCRIPT: A reader by the name of "BorderAgent" has just alerted Michelle Malkin to the fact that US visa laws don't in fact mean that one is necessarily out of status as soon as one's visa expires. To quote:
[A]s you must surely know, just because a person's visa has expired doesn't mean they are "out of status." A person is deemed to have "overstayed" when they have exceeded the time allowed him or her to stay in the U.S. by DHS/ICE. This time is put on the alien's I-94 card when they enter the U.S. In fact, if the Syrian musicians entered the U.S. on P-1 visas, as I suspect, the visa, i.e., the stamp in their passport issued by the U.S. Consulate, would have expired the instant it was used. Syrian P-1 visas can only be issued for a single entry...And even if they entered with B-2 visas, which can be issued to Syrians with more than one entry, just because the visa itself has expired doesn't mean they've overstayed. To determine whether the Syrians overstayed we'd have to see their I-94 cards.

[............]

Musicians typically have a P-1 visa and without a doubt a Syrian, entering on a P-1 visa would only be allowed a single entry on that visa and the visa would then expire immediately upon entry. The Visa only allows them to enter, while the I-94 allows them to stay here for the duration, whatever that might be, of the I-94.

As Michelle said earlier, in lay parlance, "overstaying a visa" could also mean having an expired I-94. But even then it would not necessarily make them an overstay. You see, you can actually apply for an extension of your I-94 while you are here at an inland office with BCIS. And the funny thing is, when you apply for an extension you are legally allowed to stay, even if you documents expire, until you receive a response, which generally takes longer than 45 days. So basically, you can automatically extend your stay for up to 45 days if you merely receive a peice of paper saying that you are waiting for a response.
In other words, even that claim on her part isn't necessarily (or even likely to be) true - figures, doesn't it? At least she had the decency to publish this information, as unpleasant for her thesis as it may be, I'll give her that much. Not that she refrains from one last weak attempt to put a negative spin on it ...