One rule required to keep a green card is that you cannot travel outside the U.S. for lengthy periods of time without prior permission from the U.S. government. If a green card holder is outside of the country for more than 180 days, the holder must establish his intent to remain in the U.S. permanently. CBP, again, could have easily flagged Tamerlan for his lengthy stay outside the U.S. Indeed, I have seen businesspeople and entrepreneurs, with sterling records, questioned for being outside the U.S. for one or two months, not even close to the 180 days. Yet, Tsarnaev goes beyond the 180 days outside the country and is untouched. Some in the media have written about CBP’s failure to flag Tsarnaev because he was in the FBI database, and indeed, that is a terrifying failure. Yet, it is more terrifying that the seemingly mundane day-to-day rules of DHS that serve the purpose of keeping our borders secure were just flat-out ignored. If someone is a green card holder and applied to be a permanent resident in our country, DHS has the absolute right to question when they return after leaving the U.S. for long periods of time. The fact that there is no media focus on this failure at a time when the media puts on talking head after talking head about immigration reform is very concerning.
A third very good rule is that you can’t go out and commit crimes and keep your green card. The failure to use this rule was, again, a missed opportunity to protect the people of Boston. Tsarnaev was charged with assault and battery in July 2009; why wasn’t he referred to ICE? Even though charges were dismissed, it does not always matter in immigration law — a person may be deportable based on the facts of the arrest. We have enough of our own homegrown batterers in the U.S.; we don’t need to give shelter to those from other countries.