WASHINGTON (AP) -- Four Pakistani crewmen who jumped ship in a Virginia port are not believed to be dangerous, but reports that an immigration official improperly allowed them to come ashore are prompting demands for stricter security.
An Immigration and Naturalization Service inspector in Norfolk failed to get authorization before granting a special waiver allowing the men off the ship, a Justice Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Friday.
Waivers given to foreign crewmen lacking visas must be approved by senior INS district officials.
The men, who disappeared Sunday, were identified as Mohammad Nazir, Adnan Ahmad, Ghulam Qadar and Ahmad Salman. None is thought to be dangerous, INS spokesman Joe Karpinski said.
The incident prompted INS Commissioner James Ziglar to issue a memo Friday to INS regional and district directors warning that, effective immediately, he is "implementing a zero tolerance policy with regard to INS employees who fail to abide by headquarters-issued policy and field instructions."
"The days of looking the other way are over," he wrote.
The disappearance is the latest embarrassment for the INS, which has been under intense scrutiny since the Sept. 11 attacks exposed problems with its methods for tracking foreigners.
The agency's reputation suffered another blow last week when student visa paperwork for two Sept. 11 hijackers was delivered to a Florida flight school -- exactly six months after the attacks.
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