By JENNIE TAER, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER | October 03, 2022
- The number of illegal aliens labeled as “special interest migrants” for potential national security risks increased by nearly 600% to 25,627 in fiscal year 2022, according to internal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- Of the total, 60% of the illegal migrants were from Turkey, a country where Islamic State and other foreign terrorist organizations are known to operate, according to the State Department.
- “Anybody that doesn’t think that serious threats to this country are sneaking in right now is naïve,” former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott told the DCNF.
Border Patrol saw an almost 600% increase in fiscal year 2022 in the number of illegal migrants flagged as “special interest” over national security concerns, according to internal U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data exclusively obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
A “special interest” migrant is someone who isn’t a U.S. citizen who frequently travels in areas designated as national security concerns due to terrorist activity or other types of “nefarious activity,” according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Border Patrol agents encountered 25,627 “special interest” illegal migrants compared to the 3,675 encounters in fiscal year 2021, according to the data.
“Special interest aliens” can include individuals who “possibly have a nexus to terrorism,” according to 2019 DHS fact sheet. The newly-obtained internal data refers to these individuals as “special interest migrants,” however.
Most of the encounters were recorded at the southern border, with the highest in El Paso, Texas, according to the data.
“When you have an open border, you don’t get to control who or what enters your home,” former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “There are significant real threats coming across the border.”
“Unfortunately, all the current administration wants to focus on as an economic migrants and trying to say that they have a kinder, gentler migration policy, but they’re putting the entire Nation at Risk, as well as the millions of migrants that are handed to the cartels to be trafficked across the border,” Scott said.
CBP officials encountered over 2,000,000 migrants at the southern border between October 2021 and August 2022, a record number. Of those, CBP encountered 78 individuals on the terror watchlist.
“What you’re seeing is like a snapshot of what’s crossing the border, what the agents are encountering. That the bigger threat is they’re so overwhelmed that they’re leaving hundreds of miles of border on patrols every day,” Scott said.
If CBP can’t find derogatory information on them, “special interest” illegal migrants are typically released into the country, according to Scott.
“Unless when they run the record checks on that individual person flagged for some type of derogatory information, they’re going to be processed just like any other illegal alien. It basically means that they’re going to be processed, set up for a hearing in the future and released into the United States. We overly rely on the United States to have by current and valid information people that are global database, and that does not exist.”
Most of the “special interest” illegal migrants were from Turkey, which made up 60% of the grouping, with 15,376 encountered. Border Patrol also encountered 3,246 illegal migrants from Uzbekistan and 2,446 from Bangladesh.
Turkey, for example, is a “source and transit country” for Islamic State terrorists and other terrorists operating in Syria and Iraq, according to the State Department.
The Biden administration has implemented a number of policies that have allowed many illegal migrants to stay in the country. In August, it ended the Migrant Protection Protocols, which forced certain illegal migrants to await asylum proceedings in Mexico.
On the president’s first day in office, DHS issued a memorandum putting in place a 100-day moratorium on deportations. The notice also limited immigration enforcement to those who pose risks to national security, border security and public safety.
“Anybody that doesn’t think that serious threats to this country are sneaking in right now is naïve,” Scott said.
The FBI declined to comment on the matter. DHS did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.