DHS Lets Criminals, Suspected Terrorists, Nefarious Actors into U.S., Agency Watchdog Affirms

The massive federal agency created after 9/11 to “safeguard the American people” risks national security by allowing criminals, suspected terrorists and other nefarious actors into the United States and letting asylum seekers with derogatory information remain in the country. More than two decades after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, this may seem unbelievable to many, but it is the ugly reality inside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the mammoth agency with over 260,000 employees responsible for aviation and border security as well as emergency response. The Biden administration’s disastrous open border policies have jolted the agency and those on the frontline that operate under its umbrella, specifically Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

CBP is responsible for screening all foreign visitors and returning American citizens upon arrival at a United States port of entry (POE). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), another DHS conglomerate, is supposed to vet foreigners seeking asylum to verify their identities and determine eligibility. Both DHS agencies are supposed to use technology, procedures, and coordination to perform these duties, but a federal audit reveals they are not fully effective, leaving the nation at risk. “Although U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) deployed new technologies to enhance traveler screening, it could not access all Federal data necessary to enable complete screening and vetting of noncitizens seeking admission into the United States,” according to a report made public this month by the DHS Inspector General. The 35-page document is sprinkled with redactions to protect sensitive information, but the publicly available portions tell an alarming story. For instance, CBP used varied and sometimes inconsistent inspection procedures for travelers arriving in vehicles at land ports of entry and the agency does not have the technology to perform biometric matching on travelers arriving in vehicles at the crossings.

Incredibly, the probe found that CBP is inconsistent when it conducts inspections of travelers seeking admission to the U.S. through land crossings. Specifically, the watchdog determined that CBP used non-standard inspection procedures for vehicle passengers. “At three land POEs we visited, CBP officers did not query all vehicle occupants in Simplified Arrival to identify criminal warrants, national security concerns, or border crossing history before admitting them into the country,” the report states. “Officers at those POEs said port management frequently directed officers working vehicle primary inspection lanes to query only drivers to expedite processing. This practice leaves officers unaware of potentially derogatory information about persons in a vehicle other than the driver.” While some officers told investigators they applied experience and professional judgement when determining whether to check all persons in a vehicle, others said they felt pressured by management to release vehicle into the country without querying all occupants, even if the officer believed all passengers should be vetted before admitting the vehicle’s occupants into the country.

As for USCIS, the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States, the DHS watchdog found that it did not always complete timely screenings of more than 400,000 asylum applicants between October 2017 and March 2023. “Additionally, USCIS does not have a dedicated procedure or comprehensive technology solution to perform interim screening of asylum applicants whose cases were not adjudicated within the required 180-day timeframe,” the report states. “Without capabilities to effectively screen and vet noncitizens, CBP is unable to conduct complete screening and vetting of all noncitizen travelers at air and land ports of entry.” The report proceeds to blast both DHS agencies, concluding that the lapses will continue to admit dangerous persons into the country and enable asylum seekers who may pose significant threats to public safety and national security to keep living in the United States for extended periods while awaiting an asylum decision. The DHS IG also reminds that in a past report it identified at least two persons paroled into the U.S. as part of Operation Allies Refuge/Operation Allies Welcome who may have posed a risk to national security and the safety of local communities.

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