Border agents apprehend known terrorists, gang members who enter U.S. illegally

78 on terrorist watch list, nearly 11,000 known criminals, 697 gang members

(The Center Square) – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are apprehending individuals on the federal terrorist watch list, those with criminal convictions and wanted by law enforcement, and gang members attempting to enter the U.S. southern border illegally.

In fiscal 2022 to date, federal agents apprehended 78 people on the Terrorist Screening Dataset (TSDS), referred to as the “terrorist watchlist.” That’s three times more than the total apprehensions of potential terrorists combined over the past four years.

In fiscal 2021, 16 people on the terrorist watch list were apprehended; three each in fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2019; six in fiscal 2018; and two in fiscal 2017, according to CBP data.

The TSDS is a federal database that maintains sensitive information about terrorist identities. It initially originated as the consolidated terrorist watchlist to house information on known or suspected terrorists, CBP explains, but has since evolved over the past decade to include individuals who are determined to be a potential threat to the U.S., including known affiliates of those on the watch list.

“Encounters of watchlisted individuals at our borders are very uncommon,” CBP says, “underscoring the critical work CBP Agents and Officers carry out every day on the frontlines.”

Foreign nationals who illegally enter the U.S. who are on the TSDS watch list and are encountered by CBP agents at land ports of entry “may be denied admission to our country upon presentation, barring justification for their arrest under CBP policy,” CBP says. Those encountered by Border Patrol agents in-between ports of entry “may be detained and removed, to the extent possible under CBP policy, or turned over to another government agency for subsequent detention or law enforcement action, as appropriate.”

Despite being inundated with the greatest number of people illegally entering the southern border in U.S. history, in addition to facing staffing shortages, CBP and BP agents have encountered and arrested more individuals with criminal convictions or who are wanted by law enforcement this fiscal year than they have in previous fiscal years, according to the most recent CBP data.

In fiscal 2022 to date, CBP Office of Field Operations agents have encountered 15,558 criminal foreign nationals who illegally entered the U.S. They also made 9,431 arrests of those in the National Crime Information Center database who are wanted by other law enforcement agencies.

Border Patrol agents encountered and arrested 10,778 criminal noncitizens in fiscal 2022 to date including 836 with outstanding wants or warrants.

CBP OFO agents encountered and arrested 6,567 criminal noncitizens in fiscal 2021; 7,009 in fiscal 2020; 12,705 in fiscal 2019; 11,623 in fiscal 2018; and 10,596 in fiscal 2017.

They also made a total of 8,979 NCIC arrests in fiscal 2021; 7,108 in fiscal 2020; 8,546 in fiscal 2019; 5,929 in fiscal 2018; and 7,656 in fiscal 2017.

BP agents encountered and arrested 10,763 criminal noncitizens in fiscal 2021, nearly five times as many than in fiscal 2020 of 2,438. The numbers for the previous fiscal years were also significantly lower: 4,269 in fiscal 2019, 6,698 in fiscal 2018, and 8,531 in fiscal 2017.

However, the number of arrests made by BP agents of those with outstanding warrants in fiscal years prior to fiscal 2022 was significantly higher. Compared to 836 arrests in fiscal 2022 to date, BP agents arrested 1,904 with outstanding warrants in fiscal 2021; 2,054 in fiscal 2020; 4,153 in fiscal 2019; 1,550 in fiscal 2018; and 2,675 in fiscal 2017.

The term, “criminal noncitizens,” refers to foreign nationals who’ve entered the U.S. illegally and have been convicted of a crime they were charged with committing in the U.S. or another country.

“Criminal noncitizens encountered at ports of entry are inadmissible, absent extenuating circumstances, and represent a subset of total OFO inadmissibles,” CBP says. Those arrested by BP agents are also included as a subset of total apprehensions.

CBP and BP agents also apprehended more known gang members in fiscal 2022 than in the two previous fiscal years but less than those apprehended in fiscal years 2015, 2018 and 2019.

In fiscal 2022 to date, 697 known gang members were apprehended, compared to 348, 363, 976, 808, 536, 702, and 844 in the last seven fiscal years.

The greatest number of known gang members illegally entering the U.S. southern border are affiliated with MS-13, Paisas, 18th Street, other gangs, Surenos (sur-13) and Latin Kings and Tango Blast.

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