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US needs less immigration: report

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The United States needs to further tighten its immigration laws to reduce both legal and illegal immigration to the country, says a new report released this week.

"US immigration officials are overwhelmed by the number of people they had to deal with and cannot conduct proper security checks," said Steve Camarota of the Centre for Immigration Studies, which published the study. The centre advocates cutting legal migration to the United States.

"You can't have this level of immigration and this level of resources and still keep out the bad guys," he said.

CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian said the report highlighted the danger of America's lax immigration system, "not just in terms of who is allowed in, but also how terrorists, once in the country, used weaknesses in the system to remain here."

"Strict enforcement of immigration law — at American consulates overseas, at ports of entry, and within the United States — must be an integral part of our efforts to prevent future attacks on US soil," he said.

Janice Kephart, who wrote the report, argues that unless the US immigration system is improved, America will continue to be vulnerable to terrorists planning acts that will result in mass casualties, major economic damage and destruction of infrastructure.

"It shows that terrorists both before and after 9-11 have and will continue to exploit the weaknesses of our lax immigration system by committing fraud and other violations. These gaps in our immigration system will remain exploited until the system becomes designed to catch terrorists better and provide sufficient resources and the political will to enforce the law," she said.

Of the 94 known foreign-born terrorists who operated in the United States between 1993 and 2004, two-thirds committed immigration fraud, the report says.