Katko & Comer Blast DHS for Hiding Information About Terrorists Apprehended at the Border
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, blasted the Biden Administration for hiding information from the public about terrorists apprehended at the southern border. In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Ranking Members Katko and Comer call for all documents and information about terrorist apprehensions at the border and the Department’s policies for keeping that information withheld from the public.
“We write to conduct oversight over the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) apprehensions of foreign nationals with terrorist ties at the southern border and possible efforts within the Biden Administration to shield this information from the public. It is no secret that terrorists and other bad actors attempt to exploit weaknesses in border security and vetting to enter the United States. Reporting indicates that multiple individuals with terrorist ties have been recently apprehended after illegally crossing the border, and that such encounters may be increasing. The American people deserve to know whether President Biden’s weak border policies are allowing terrorists to enter our homeland,” wrote the Republican lawmakers.
In calendar year 2021, there were over two million apprehensions of illegal border crossers by U.S. Border Patrol. Individuals apprehended by DHS personnel after illegally crossing the border are processed for biometric and biographic information, which is then cross-referenced against various law enforcement databases for derogatory information, including the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). Individuals listed with derogatory information within the TSDB could have ties to terrorist activities or even be known terrorists. However, the Biden Administration’s DHS refuses to publicly release statistics on the individuals it apprehends who have derogatory information in the TSDB, labeling such information—including the mere count of those apprehended—“law enforcement sensitive.”
“Public reporting indicates that at least several potential terrorists were apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol personnel after illegally crossing the border last year. And it is likely that the numbers of terrorists apprehended is much higher than publicly known. Former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott stated, prior to his departure, the Border Patrol was encountering ‘TSDBs at a level we have never seen before. That’s a real threat,’” continued the Republican lawmakers. “The American people deserve to know this information and the realities of the security situation we face at our broken borders, especially where terrorists attempt to gain entry to our country.”
The letter to Secretary Mayorkas can be found here.