The Department of Homeland Security released an illegal immigrant into the U.S. who was on the terrorist watchlist and took two weeks to arrest the migrant after the release, according to a report from the department’s inspector general.
The recently released report says that multiple mistakes were made by Customs and Border Protection when they apprehended an illegal immigrant in the Yuma, Arizona, sector of the U.S. southern border in April 2022.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended and subsequently released a migrant without providing information requested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) that would have confirmed the migrant was a positive match with the Terrorist Screening Data Set (Terrorist Watchlist). This occurred because CBP’s ineffective practices and processes for resolving inconclusive matches with the Terrorist Watchlist led to multiple mistakes,” the report says.
According to the report, on April 17, 2022 “Border Patrol apprehended a migrant and their family members” in Yuma, Arizona. The agency said that “their,” and “them” pronouns were used in the report to conceal the individual’s gender.
After the release when the individual’s presence on the watchlist was determined by April 21, 2022, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) moved to apprehend the individual. The local ICE office in Tampa believed that “the migrant could pose a national security risk.”
Due to paperwork and miscommunication, the actual arrest did not take place until May 6, prompting the DHS inspector general to recommend that Border Patrol implement a better system to identify individuals on the terrorist watchlist and for better information-sharing practices for ICE.
One reason the individual was originally released was that agents were busy processing “an increased flow of migrants,” according to agents in the Yuma sector.
“CPC agents explained that the Yuma CPC was over capacity following an increase in apprehensions, which created pressure to quickly process migrants and decreased the time available to review each file,” the report says.
DHS concurred with the report’s recommendations, saying that it would take steps to clean up its system.
“DHS remains committed to protecting the American people and safeguarding our borders through effective and efficient screening, arrest, and repatriation/removal of migrants who threaten national security,” a representative for the department wrote in a response letter to the inspector general’s findings.
Since President Joe Biden took office, the border has seen record-high border crossings, with millions pouring across seeking asylum status. This fiscal year, at least 125 individuals on the Terrorist Watchlist have been stopped at the border, with some Republicans saying more have gotten across.