Ashcroft bolsters border security, agency info sharing

Attorney General John Ashcroft announced on Wednesday new steps that the Justice Department will take to arrest, detain and possibly deport foreigners in the United States who are linked to terrorist organizations or activities. Additionally, the agency is imposing strict new measures on non-immigrant visa holders and applicants as part of the war on terrorism. The Bush administration created the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, which will be headed by FBI Deputy Assistant Director of Intelligence Steve McCraw, Ashcroft said during a briefing. The task force will monitor and track non-immigrant visa applicants and aliens with those who are already in the United States who have possible links to terrorism. The taskforce will be charged with ensuring federal agencies exchange as much information as possible and coordinate "efforts to bar all aliens that meet criteria," Ashcroft said. Ashcroft also indicated that the Justice Department is "moving forcefully to implement new authorities" under the PATRIOT Act, the recently enacted anti-terrorism law. He added that agencies are working "aggressively" to boost the interoperability of their information systems to thwart potential terrorists. As part of the new immigration policies, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on Wednesday issued guidance to its offices. INS Commissioner James Ziglar said the agency will added agents to track and detain aliens at U.S. borders and will bolster its technology so the INS can "disseminate information more readily and on a real-time basis." He added that new authority to share information between some agencies, a provision under the new anti-terrorism law, is "critical" to implement these immigration security measures.