More immigrants on the anti-terrorism watch list crossed the US border | ET REALITY

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A growing number of immigrants arrested at the southern border over the past year are on the U.S. terrorist watch list, according to government data.

From October last year to September this year, Southern border officials arrested 169 people whose names matched those on the watch list, compared to 98 during the previous fiscal year and 15 in 2021, according to government data. But that’s a tiny fraction of the total number of immigrants who were detained at the border over the past year, more than two million.

The increase appears to reflect at least two factors: an increase in illegal crossings and the number of people arriving from a wider variety of countries than in previous years.

Still, Republicans have seized on those numbers to attack President Biden over border policies they say make Americans unsafe.

Rep. Mark E. Green, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, highlighted the arrests Wednesday during a hearing on global threats to the United States.

“Why do these people, of whom under the previous president only 11 tried to cross and were caught, suddenly feel like they can try and succeed?” he asked. (During fiscal years 2017-2019, under President Donald J. Trump, a total of 11 migrants on the watch list were arrested at the southern border.)

“And those are just the ones we know,” Green added. The government estimates that about 600,000 migrants crossed the southern border undetected.

Christopher A. Wray, director of the FBI, acknowledged that the increase in encounters with people associated with known or suspected terrorists was a cause for concern. But upon noticing the rebound in a recent evaluationDepartment of Homeland Security intelligence analysts said it did not reflect a growing terrorist threat.

Under the Biden administration, illegal border crossings have reached all-time highs. An increasing number of immigrants are also arriving from more countries.

People from at least 230 countries have been arrested in the past year and face deportation in immigration courts, according to data collected and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

In particular, the number of immigrants from Colombia has increased markedly in the last two years. Some of those people may have had ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which were once the country’s largest rebel group, according to an intelligence analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss national security issues.

The United States removed the FARC from its list of foreign terrorist organizations nearly two years ago following a 2016 peace agreement in Colombia. decades-long conflict.

The Terrorist Watch List is an extensive intelligence database containing more than a million names of known terrorists and suspected terrorists, as well as people with links to them, including family members. When immigrants are arrested after crossing the border illegally, officials check their names against the watch list and conduct other background checks.

“In most of these cases, it is ultimately determined through further investigation that there is no connection to terrorism and that individual,” said John Cohen, a former counterterrorism adviser who once served as acting chief of the intelligence and analysis division of the Department of Homeland Security. .

Customs and Border Protection releases few details about the people whose names match those on the terrorist watch list or what happens to them afterward. Border officials coordinate with the FBI on whether the person should be allowed to remain in the country or be expelled.

The list has been criticized for a long time for the opaque standards under which people’s names are added and for generating false matches. It can take years to remove the names of people associated with groups that are no longer considered a terrorist threat.

People are often mistaken for someone who is on the watch list because they have the same or similar name.

The southern border has not been a route terrorists have taken to reach the United States in the past. No one has been killed or injured in a terrorist attack in the United States involving someone who crossed the border illegally since 1975, said Alex Nowrasteh, vice president of economic and social policy studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

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