Record-Breaking FBI Terror Watchlist Arrests and Encounters at Southern Border in FY 23

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According to data released Tuesday, the number of people on the FBI terror watchlist who were arrested by Border Patrol in FY 2023 at the southern border reached a record high at the end of May.

Border Patrol has made 125 arrests between the ports of entry on the southern border since October when the fiscal year started.

This is more than the 98 encounters in FY 2022, which was a record. In FY 21, there were only 15 arrests, and in FY 20, just three. In FY19, there were no arrests at the southern border of ports of entry.

The number of people on the watchlist who are encountered by Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations, or OFO, at ports of entry is usually greater than those that are encountered between ports of entry.

In FY 2023 there have already been 337 encounters at the ports of the north and south, compared with 380 in FY2022 and 157 for FY 21.

The Terrorist Screening Dataset, or TSDS as it is officially known, is the database of the government that contains “sensitive information about terrorist identities.”

CBP reports that “The TSDS was originally a consolidated terrorist list to contain information on known or suspect terrorists (KSTs), but it has evolved in the last decade to also include other individuals who could pose a threat to the United States. This includes known affiliates of individuals listed as watchlists.”

Republicans and former border officials are concerned about the number of people on the terror watchlist who get past Border Patrol agents.

In FY 2022 there were more than 399,000 illegal immigrants that escaped Border Patrol custody, compared to 390,000 for FY 2021.

DHS has announced that its Deputy Secretary John Tien will retire in July. This is another high-profile departure for the agency. It already lost the Border Patrol Chief and the acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director.