Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled back to his home country of Dagestan and stayed there for six months even though he and his family sought refuge here in our country from alleged persecution there. A person who is afraid of death or torture in his homeland does not return to his homeland; if he does, the system is set up to raise a red flag. When he re-entered the U.S. on July 17, 2012, and presented himself to Customs and Border Protection officials at JFK as he would have had to do, the computer system should have had a record of his travel back to Dagestan. As soon as the customs officer saw that he traveled back to his country of alleged persecution, Tsarnaev should have been pulled immediately from the line and put into at least secondary inspection and probably deferred inspection. CBP could have detained him, contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and then ICE could have issued a “notice to appear,” which is the document used to put someone into deportation proceedings. Our laws would have even given him the chance to explain why he should not be deported. Was this information in the CBP system as it should have been? Why didn’t CBP question him? Why hasn’t the media requested these records? Why haven’t journalists asked these questions of CBP?
Now, enforcement of these laws on asylum would have been enough — Tsarnaev would have been detained at the very least and possibly deported. But, even more disturbing is that there is another set of immigration laws regarding green cards that was also completely ignored.
When the U.S. grants permanent residence (the “green card”) to someone, that person has certain obligations that must be fulfilled in order to maintain his/her status. The U.S. government does not just give out green cards and say, “Do whatever you want now.” A green card is a privilege, and if the holder wants to keep it, he/she better follow our laws and rules.