DHS: Border Patrol released migrant on terror watch list into U.S.
“This occurred because CBP’s ineffective practices and processes for resolving inconclusive matches with the Terrorist Watchlist led to multiple mistakes,” the report said
July 11, 2023 9:09am
Updated: July 11, 2023 9:09am
U.S. Border Patrol agents released a migrant on the FBI’s terror watch list into the country after “multiple mistakes” were made regarding his apprehension, according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general.
The suspected terrorist, a Colombian national who was not named in the report, was arrested by Border Patrol agents near Yuma, Arizona on April 17, 2022. However, he was released into the United States just two days later, the report revealed.
It wasn’t until he tried to board an April 21 flight to Tampa, Florida that authorities were notified he was on the Terrorist Screening Dataset, which tracks known or suspected terrorists or affiliates.
Yet it took officials until May 6 to detain him, according to the investigation.
According to DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, the investigation revealed that border agents failed to enter sufficient amounts of information into the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, which could have confirmed him to be a suspected terrorist.
“This occurred because CBP’s ineffective practices and processes for resolving inconclusive matches with the Terrorist Watchlist led to multiple mistakes,” Cuffari wrote in the report.
“For example, CBP sent a request to interview the migrant to the wrong email address, obtained information requested by the [FBI Terrorist Screening Center] but never shared it, and released the migrant before fully coordinating with the TSC,” he continued.
Cuffari added that even after the mistake was found, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was instructed to arrest the migrants but “faced multiple challenges sharing information within ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations while planning and conducting the arrest.” As a result, it took around two weeks to find the migrant and arrest him.
During Fiscal Year 2023, Border Patrol agents at the southern border intercepted a record number of individuals who are on the FBI’s terror watchlist, according to data released last month. From the beginning of the Fiscal Year in October to the end of May, Border Patrol agents arrested 125 suspected or known terrorists, compared to 98 in Fiscal Year 2022 and 15 in Fiscal Year 2021.
"If [Customs and Border Protection's] ineffective practices for resolving inconclusive Terrorist Watchlist matches continue, the component risks releasing individuals into the United States who potentially threaten national security and public safety," investigators said in their report.