WASHINGTON – The Immigration and Naturalization Service plans to deport – unrestrained and unescorted – most, if not all, of the estimated 6,000 Arab nationals living illegally in the U.S. via commercial airliners, WorldNetDaily has learned.

The Middle Easterners are among the estimated 314,000 aliens recently identified by INS Commissioner James W. Ziglar as having ignored deportation orders.

After it rounds them up, INS will follow a longstanding but little-known policy of returning aliens from overseas countries on passenger jetliners.

The INS policy – spelled out in the enforcement-standard section, “Escorting Detainees on Commercial Aircraft” – allows INS officers to book a group of fewer than 10 “non-violent” aliens at a time on a jet – with no escorts and no handcuffs.

Even aliens with criminal records are eligible for unsupervised removal, as long as they haven’t been convicted of violent crimes, according to INS guidelines.

The policy requires only that the aliens be preboarded and seated in the last rows of the plane “whenever possible.”

Once they’re seated, the officer or officers who escorted them on the plane remove their handcuffs and exit the plane.

“Officers should use care and discretion when removing restraints from properly classified low-risk detainees to avoid notice by the traveling public and airline
personnel,” INS policy advises.

“Officers should be aware the general public may perceive persons transported to airline gates or boarded in restraints as threats to airline and passenger safety when traveling without escorts,” it further states.

The policy has long been a sore spot with airline pilots, but particularly so after last year’s hijackings by 19 Arab nationals, three of whom were in the U.S. illegally.

The INS refuses to say how many, if any, Arab aliens have been deported since Ziglar’s announcement last December. Of the total of 314,000 aliens, only 806 have been “apprehended” so far, said Nancy Cohen, an INS official here. She would not say how many of those have actually been removed from the country.

Cockpit intrusions

Before Sept. 11, airlines reported some 30 instances in which deported aliens partially or completely forced their way into cockpits, according to Andrew R. Thomas, author of the bestseller “Air Rage.”

Cockpit intrusions are bad enough, Thomas says. But passengers have also been abused by aliens. In one case, he says, a little girl seated among a dozen Salvadoran men was sexually assaulted.

“The INS policy of deporting illegals is deplorable,” Thomas said in a phone interview.

The agency is aware of the potential for violence aboard the flights. Its policy on handling deportees advises: “Detainees who require officer escorts shall not be served meals that require metal utensils that could be used as weapons.”

While INS spokesman Russ Bergeron acknowledges that there is “no difference” in the escort policy now compared to before Sept. 11, and that commercial airlines will still be used, he points out that many of the 314,000 “absconders” will be flown back on
government planes operated by the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System.

But JPATS doesn’t fly overseas – leaving airlines to transport most, if not all, of the 6,000 Arab aliens back to the Middle East.

Can’t fly over ‘big pond’

“We can’t go over the big pond,” said Craig Charles, INS liaison to JPATS, referring to the Atlantic. “We don’t have the airframes for it.”

Charles, who works at JPATS’s scheduling office in Kansas City, Mo., says MD-82s make up most of the JPATS fleet, and they have only about a 4? -hour flight range.

But he adds that INS can lease large jets for difficult deportees – such as “a fighter,” or a violent alien who resists leaving – and thereby avoid putting commercial passengers at risk on a long overseas flight. Charles says the INS also has leased such planes to send back large groups of detainees overseas, such as the more than 100 Nigerians it recently deported.

Also, INS officials note that the escort policy requires officers to notify airlines of high-risk or criminal aliens “at the earliest point in the arrangement process.”

And pilots can refuse such passengers.

“The aircraft’s captain has the ultimate authority as to who may travel on his or her aircraft, and to determine the use of restraining devices on any flight,” INS policy says.

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