Watchdog Criticizes Border Patrol: The Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog has raised concerns about the effectiveness of the Border Patrol’s system in determining whether migrants could pose a national security risk due to terrorism ties. Current procedures have been labeled as “ineffective” in a recent report.
Background on the Case
The report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General focuses on the release of a migrant in 2022 who was later discovered to be on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist. Border Patrol agents released the migrant and his family in April 2022 before federal law enforcement officials could ascertain his status on the Terrorist Screening Dataset.
Border Patrol Procedures and the Release
As an agency under Customs and Border Protection, which is part of the DHS, the Border Patrol screens migrants apprehended along land and coastal borders. These screenings involve reviews of criminal and immigration records, as well as searches in terrorism databases. However, in this particular case, the DHS inspector general found that Border Patrol agents in Arizona released the migrant without waiting for a conclusive terrorism database search. It was only when the migrant attempted to board a flight to Florida that federal officials realized he was indeed on the terrorism watchlist.
Challenges Faced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
After the confirmation of the watchlist match, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested the migrant in Florida. However, ICE encountered difficulties in obtaining crucial information about the migrant’s records, including his immigration history. The DHS watchdog report highlighted the challenges faced by ICE in its efforts to gather necessary data for the arrest.
Response from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Upon the release of the report, the DHS criticized its findings, stating that it sensationalized and mischaracterized a complex case. According to the department, both Border Patrol and ICE agents had taken appropriate steps to ensure there was no threat to public safety.
Identification of the Migrant and His Background
While the report does not mention the migrant’s name or nationality, it refers to a congressional testimony about a Colombian man. It is important to note that the U.S. government has removed certain Colombian guerilla groups and paramilitaries from its list of foreign terrorist organizations. However, individuals associated with these groups could still be on the FBI’s terrorism watchlist
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Timeline of the Migrant’s Case
The migrant entered U.S. Border Patrol custody near Yuma on April 17, 2022, along with family members. The FBI’s attempt to determine whether the migrant was on the terror watchlist was unsuccessful, partly due to a communication error. The Border Patrol released the migrant on April 19, despite the ongoing terrorism database search. Border Patrol agents in Yuma cited inadequate procedures for handling cases with inconclusive watchlist searches and the pressure to quickly release detainees due to overcrowding in holding facilities.
Confirmation of Watchlist Match and Subsequent Arrest
Before boarding a plane from Palm Springs, California, to Tampa, Florida, additional information about the migrant was shared by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with the FBI. This information confirmed that the migrant was indeed a positive match on the terrorism watchlist. ICE then prioritized the migrant’s arrest, but the report highlighted the challenges faced by ICE in obtaining information necessary for the arrest, including immigration records. The migrant was eventually stopped and arrested by ICE agents on May 6.
Conclusion of Watchdog Criticizes Border Patrol
A DHS official responded to the report, dismissing the findings as misleading. According to the official, Border Patrol was unaware of the migrant’s watchlist status when releasing him. It was emphasized that the migrant had been released with a GPS-enabled ankle monitor, enabling officials to track his movements. Once the watchlist match was confirmed, ICE followed proper procedures and
Our Reader’s Queries
How do I report someone to Border Patrol?
Get in touch with the CBP Information Center by submitting your question, compliment, complaint, or tip online. If you prefer to speak with someone directly, U.S. visitors can call 877-CBP-5511, while visitors outside the U.S. can reach out to +1-202-325-8000. For those with hearing impairments, a telecommunications device is available at 7-1-1.
Is there corruption in Border Patrol?
Each year, hundreds of CBP agents are detained for various criminal activities and misconduct, with corruption being a common issue. Surprisingly, the rate of arrest for corruption among CBP agents surpasses that of any other federal agency.
What are the cons of Border Patrol?
Working in hazardous conditions: Border patrol agents frequently operate in isolated and unfriendly regions, where they may encounter severe weather, rough terrain, and perilous wildlife. They also run the risk of confronting armed and aggressive smugglers and unauthorized immigrants who could jeopardize their safety.
What power does Border Patrol have?
U.S. Code Title 19 and its regulations give the green light to a “customs officer” to check people, luggage, goods, and items coming into the U.S. from overseas. They also have the authority to hop on a vehicle or boat in the U.S. or “customs waters” (within 12 miles of the coast) to carry out their duties.