In an article published late Friday night, “Misbehaving Syrians Carried Expired Visas (registration required),” the Dallas Morning News confirmed that 13 members of Nour Mehana had expired visas at the time of their June 29 flight on Northwest 327:
Thirteen Syrian musicians whose behavior aboard a June flight stirred suspicions and talks of “dry runs” entered the country lawfully on artist visas, but immigration officials said those passes expired more than two weeks before they boarded the flight from Detroit to Los Angeles.
Some passengers and air marshals aboard the flight raised concerns about the men’s behavior, and officials from the FBI, Transportation Security Administration, Los Angeles Police Department and federal air marshals met the plane on its arrival. But the expired visas were not detected until an immigration check was run after the men were released, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman said Friday.
As I’ve discussed previously, the reporting is a bit murky on the technical difference between visa expiration date and duration of stay, but the strong implication seems to me to be that they had indeed fallen “out of status.” Translation: They were here illegally. The key point here is that nobody bothered to check. An immigration official stated that those questioning the band members did not include an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official and that “checks on the status of the visas should have been conducted at the time.”
Have we learned nothing from 9/11?!?
Note also that the Dallas Morning News reports, contrary to the assertions of unnamed air marshals’ sources quoted by KFI’s Eric Leonard, that it was not just Annie Jacobsen and her husband who raised concerns about the Syrians’ behavior, but both “passengers and air marshals” who did.
Note especially this paragraph in the Telegraph‘s article:
Concert promoters confirmed that some of his band had flown in on Northwest 327 but that the members did not remember anything unusual about the flight. Beyond that, the promoter said, he had been told by Homeland Security not to talk to the press.
I had wondered why not one of the Syrians had come forward to give their account of what happened and to explain their behavior. Now, we learn that our Department of Homeland Security is pressuring their promoter not to talk.
Now, we know that immigration officials didn’t bother to check their immigration status.
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