Border Agents Accidentally Let A Migrant On The Terror Watchlist Enter The US

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Erinn Broadus Investigative Reporter
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released a migrant on the terrorist watchlist due to ineffective practices within the department, a new report found.

On April 17, 2022, officials screened a migrant in Yuma, Arizona, and determined he was not a terrorist threat; additional screenings days later at Palm Springs International Airport indicated otherwise. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was only able to apprehend the migrant two weeks after the discovery due to internal complications with their removal operations branch, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General reported.

This two-week delay was due to the ineffective information sharing between ICE, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and the terrorist screening center (TSC), the report found. An example of this includes a failure to use the correct email addresses for government bodies: “CBP sent a request to interview the migrant to the wrong email address, obtained information requested by the TSC but never shared it, and released the migrant before fully coordinating with the TSC,” the report said.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 6: An ICE agent monitors hundreds of asylum seekers being processed upon entering the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building on June 6, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

After the migrant was evaluated in Yuma, officials there allegedly did not wait to verify that the National Targeting Center (NTC) and TSC were done screening him. Yuma officials pushed the migrant along without waiting for verification because they “did not have an adequate method to flag … individuals with inconclusive Terrorist Watchlist matches,” the report said. (RELATED: Supreme Court Sides With Biden On Immigration Enforcement Plan)

Additionally, Yuma officials said that they were over capacity due to an influx of apprehensions, which pressures the department to process migrants quickly. After the migrant was successfully identified in Palm Springs, additional delays occurred because the arresting body did not receive the official arrest papers until eight days later due to the fact that they were sent in the mail.

Fugitive Operations had additional difficulty locating the migrant due to complications with GPS. The migrant was monitored via GPS, but when Fugitive Operations wanted to arrest them, it was before the working hours of the Tampa Alternatives to Detention (ATD). When ATD officers got to work, at 7 a.m., they were able to locate the migrant and he was arrested at 7:30 a.m.

“This OIG report sensationalizes and mischaracterizes a complex case, in which CBP and ICE personnel took appropriate steps to ensure there was no threat to the public,” a DHS spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Noncitizens encountered by CBP are thoroughly screened and vetted, and any individual determined to pose a threat to national security or public safety is detained.”

“The Department of Homeland Security is committed to protecting the American people and safeguarding our borders, and the Department is constantly working to improve information sharing and execute our vital mission,” the spokesperson said.

In the first five months of 2023, 69 migrants were arrested for being on the terror watchlist. Last year, 98 were captured among the 2.3 million migrants that CBP encountered at the border in 2022.

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