Customs and Border Protection agents accidentally released a migrant who was on the terror watchlist into the United States due to “ineffective practice” which led to “multiple errors”, according to a report by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security.
The redacted report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in late June revealed that CBP had allowed a migrant to enter the country before providing all the necessary information to its Terrorist Screening Center. This center would have been able to verify whether or not the individual was listed on the terror watchlist.
Agents of the Border Patrol first apprehended this individual and his family in Yuma, Arizona, on April 17, 2022. Agents received an inconclusive result after running the migrant’s information through Terrorist Watchlist. They were then asked to arrange an interview for more information. CBP sent an interview request to the wrong email address and the migrant wasn’t interviewed.
CBP released the migrant into the U.S. two days after his arrest.
The DHS OIG report states that “this occurred because CBP’s ineffective processes and practices for resolving unconclusive matches to the Terrorist Watchlist lead to multiple errors.” CBP, for example, sent an interview request to the wrong email, obtained the information requested by TSC, but never shared it with them, and released the immigrant without fully coordinating the TSC.
Agents in Yuma stated that they were unable to stop the individual from entering because they did not “have an adequate method of flagging… individuals with inconclusive Terrorist Watchlist matchings.”
Officials also reported that the Yuma Processing Center was “overcapacity due to an increase in arrests which created pressure to process migrants quickly and reduced the time available to examine each file.”
The migrant, along with his family, was released from prison in the U.S. and attempted to board an international flight to Tampa, Florida at the Palm Springs International Airport. Pre-flight screening revealed that the individual had been placed on the terror watch list.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was notified, and agents started to try and locate the person for arrest. The report also revealed that ICE “had to deal with multiple challenges” in sharing information within the agency. The ICE took more than two weeks before they were able to apprehend and locate the migrant.
The DHS OIG report concluded that “if CBP’s ineffective practice for resolving Terrorist Watchlist match inconclusive continues, the component runs the risk of releasing individuals to the United States, who could potentially threaten public safety and national security.”
DHS spokeswoman told Daily Caller News Foundation that “this OIG report sensationalizes a case in which CBP personnel and ICE personnel were responsible for taking the appropriate steps to ensure the public was not at risk.”
The spokesperson said that “non-citizens who are encountered by CBP undergo thorough screening and vetting, and anyone determined to be a threat to public safety or national security is detained.” The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is dedicated to protecting Americans and safeguarding their borders. It is always working to improve the information-sharing process and to execute its vital mission.