- Federal immigration authorities released for one day a Pakistani man who illegally crossed the southern border into California whose name appeared on the terror watchlist, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) memo reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- Border Patrol apprehended the Pakistani national on Nov. 10, 2023 in Tecate, California, according to the memo.
- “Imagine how many cases like this one get through without us knowing,” a DHS official told the DCNF on the condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to speak publicly.
Federal immigration authorities caught and released a Pakistani man who illegally crossed the southern border and whose name appeared on the terror watchlist, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) memo reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Pakistani national entered the U.S. illegally on Nov. 9, 2023 and was nabbed by Border Patrol the next day in Tecate, California, according to a memo the DCNF received from two different Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sources. While in Border Patrol custody on Nov. 22, the Terrorism Screening Center (TSC) confirmed he was a positive match on the terror watchlist, according to the memo.
Despite this, the memo says the terror suspect was released from the custody of ICE San Diego on Jan. 23. ICE served him with an “Order of Release on Recognizance” with tracking technology through the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program during that time.
Border agents served him with an expedited removal order on Nov. 11, after which he expressed that he had a credible fear of going back to Pakistan, according to the memo.
On Jan. 24, however, the ICE office in San Diego informed the agency’s office in Los Angeles of his presence on the terror watchlist, along with his “mandatory detention requirement,” and had him report on his own to the ATD check-in office. ICE Los Angeles was able to arrest him when he showed up for the check-in.
“Imagine how many cases like this one get through without us knowing,” a DHS official told the DCNF on the condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to speak publicly.
When individuals are placed in expedited removal proceedings, asylum officers conduct interviews to determine whether or not someone has a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion if returned to your country” that would keep them from returning home and allow them to access the asylum process, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If an asylum officer denies the credible fear claim, the individual claiming fear can ask to have their case heard by an immigration judge.
Immigration judges each have an average of 4,500 pending cases, according to a December report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
The DCNF is not publishing the internal agency memo or the name of the terror watchlisted individual to protect the identities of confidential sources. The memo also didn’t disclose which terror organization the individual is connected to.
“One of the biggest issues in preventing terrorists from entering the United States, in my opinion, is the backlog of records checks being run by the massive amounts of people flooding the border,” a second DHS official told the DCNF. “When it takes more than three months for an agency to determine if someone is/was a Known Suspected Terrorist, that is a huge problem!”
“Who knows how many after-the-fact realizations were made after releasing someone into the country? We may never know until they are encountered by law enforcement at a later date. Very well after it’s too late,” the second official said.
Border Patrol caught 172 individuals on the terrorist watchlist attempting to enter the United States illegally in fiscal year 2023. From October through December, Border Patrol recorded 50 encounters of individuals on the terrorist watchlist, according to federal data.
Agents also recorded 98 encounters of terror watchlisted individuals in fiscal year 2022 and 16 in fiscal year 2021, according to the data.
ICE officers in Minnesota nabbed a member of the Somali terror group al-Shabaab on Jan. 20 after authorities released him shortly after he illegally crossed the southern border near San Ysidro, California, on March 13, 2023, according to an internal federal memo recently obtained by the DCNF. The Terrorist Screening Center deemed the 27-year-old Somali national “mismatch’” on the watchlist, but later determined to be a confirmed member of al-Shabaab.
Border Patrol agents nabbed an individual Tuesday who crossed the southern border illegally and admitted to his previous ties to a Colombian terrorist organization, according to an internal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Feb. 6 memo exclusively obtained by the DCNF.
ICE didn’t respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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