San Diego Law Review


Daniel Pines

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



This Article seeks to break the silence by examining the issue of overseas LPRs and offering a mechanism by which the U.S. government could take affirmative action to file cases in immigration courts to strip out-of-status LPR terrorists of their LPR status. As the United States legally can, and routinely does, revoke the LPR status of out-of-status LPRs who appear at U.S. borders, the United States could also take away such status for those who have resorted to terror, without having to wait—perhaps in vain—for them to appear on the United States’ doorstep. The purpose of granting an individual LPR status is, as the name suggests, to allow that person to reside permanently inside the United States as an initial stage toward U.S. citizenship. Out-of-status terrorists display by their acts and deeds that they have no interest in this goal and indeed embody the exact antithesis of the purpose of Lawful Permanent Resident status, given that they are in fact unlawful, nonpermanent, and nonresident. And, although their numbers might not yet be enormous, as case after case after case has demonstrated, even terrorists in small numbers can have grave impact. Indeed, out-of-status terrorist LPRs raise an even greater threat than standard terrorists due to the above-mentioned ability of such LPR terrorists to travel into the United States and the legal limitations on the U.S. government to track and thwart them. Part II of this Article provides a background on immigration law in general and LPR status in particular. Part III evaluates the limits that the Constitution and U.S. laws place on the government’s ability to locate, monitor, track, collect evidence on, and prevent attacks by overseas terrorist LPRs. Part IV depicts the current mechanisms for revoking LPR status as a general matter—mechanisms that the government routinely uses with regard to LPRs inside the United States but has thus far chosen not to employ with regard to out-of-status overseas LPRs. Finally, Part V describes how the United States could take affirmative steps to use existing statutory and case law to strip out-of-status terrorist LPRs of their status in a manner that fully comports with due process.