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Feds can’t find foreign nationals released into US as terrorism threats heightened

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Nine months after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General expressed alarm that under the Biden administration, DHS agencies couldn’t locate where illegal foreign nationals were after they released them into the U.S., ongoing problems persist and terrorism threats are heightened.

Last September, the DHS OIG released a redacted report stating that DHS “does not have assurance that all migrants can be located once they are released into the United States.”

It conducted an audit over a 17-month period when DHS released more than 1.3 million foreign nationals into the U.S. after they illegally entered through the southwest border.

Of the 981,671 Border Patrol records evaluated from March 2021 through August 2022, addresses for more than 177,000 foreign nationals, or nearly 20%, “were either missing, invalid for delivery, or not legitimate residential locations,” it found.

The OIG also found that during this period, Border Patrol agents released 430,000 illegal foreign nationals into the U.S. on their own recognizance with Notice to Appear documents to go before an immigration judge. They released nearly 95,000 with Notice to Report documents to go to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office and more than 318,000 through a new Parole Plus Alternatives to Detention (Parole + ATD) program.

Under the Biden administration, instead of being processed for removal, foreign nationals deemed inadmissible were granted Parole + ATD and released into the U.S. They were also tracked with electronic devices either through wearing ankle bracelets or being given smartphones “intended to ensure compliance with release conditions, court hearings, and final orders of removal,” the report notes.

Prior to releasing them, federal agents are required to vet them to ensure they don’t have a criminal record and aren’t connected to countries of foreign concern or terrorist organizations. Federal agents are also required to obtain an address of where they are going in order to enforce federal immigration law.

The OIG found that DHS agencies had “limited ability” to accurately and effectively track them. Border Patrol “cannot always obtain and does not always record migrant addresses” and ICE “does not always validate migrant addresses prior to their release.”

Border Patrol agents didn’t accurately and effectively capture valid addresses, the report notes, because they were inundated with large influxes of people arriving at the border and because of “limited coordination with ICE and its limited authority to administer compliance with address requirements.” The audit found that “ICE also did not have adequate resources to validate and analyze migrants’ post-release addresses.”

ICE is statutorily required to enforce federal immigration law, specifically detaining and removing inadmissibles. “ICE must be able to locate migrants to enforce immigration laws, including to arrest or remove individuals who are considered potential threats to national security,” the OIG said. “The notable percentage of missing, invalid for delivery, or duplicate addresses on file means DHS may not be able to locate migrants following their release into the United States. As the Department continues to apprehend and release tens of thousands of migrants each month, valid post-release addresses are essential.”

Prior to this audit, the OIG found that DHS processes allowed known or suspected terrorist to illegally enter the U.S. and “potentially threaten national security and public safety.”

The report was released nearly 22 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The terrorist attacks prompted the creation of DHS, consolidating several federal agencies all mandated to protect Americans and prevent another terrorist attack from occurring.

Within the last nine months, the OIG continued to report on DHS failures and authorities nationwide have issued heightened terrorist warnings.

One OIG audit found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) weren’t effectively screening asylum seekers – meaning they didn’t know who they were releasing into the country.

Another OIG report found that CBP and ICE weren’t detaining and removing inadmissables arriving at a major international airport – with 44% flagged for removal not showing up for their removal flights because federal agents had released them.

Another OIG audit found that DHS, CBP, USCIS and ICE agents didn’t properly vet or resolve derogatory information for tens of thousands of Afghans released into the U.S. After the Biden administration pulled U.S. forces out of Afghanistan in August 2021, 97,000 Afghans were brought to the U.S. Among them, 77,000, or 79%, were granted humanitarian parole into the U.S. allowing them to stay for two years.

The OIG expressed alarm about DHS not having a process “for monitoring parole expiration” after the two-year period ended in August 2023, meaning no plans were in place to remove them.

As numerous officials have warned a terrorist attack on U.S. soil is imminent and members of Congress have demanded answers, an unprecedented estimated 12 million people from over 150 countries have illegally entered the U.S. since the president has been in office.

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