US border control said it had arrested five migrants on Friday who were later discovered to be on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database watch list.
The apprehensions, which took place at the Tucson Sector of the United States Border Patrol, occurred shortly after Title 42 expired on Thursday.
The migrants were then referred to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task for further investigation and to confirm their identities, a source from the Customs and Border Protection claimed.
The source said the arrests took place throughout the day and evening on Friday after foreign nationals illegally crossed the border and attempted to avoid detection and apprehension.
Information regarding the demographics and nationalities of the arrested migrants was not available.
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A total of 80 migrants listed in the Terrorist Screening Database have been arrested after entering the US along the southwest border this fiscal year, according to a report by US Customs and Border Protection.
Two more were apprehended after crossing the northern border with Canada. The data includes migrants apprehended between October 2022 and March 2023.
The Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) contains information related to specific individuals reasonably suspected to be involved in terrorism or related activities.
If a person is listed in the TSDB, it triggers a reporting process that alerts the FBI to an encounter by the Border Patrol.
The source said the additional scrutiny triggered by the encounter includes verification that the migrant whose name matches a name on the list is in fact the same person.
The FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) maintains the database and provides the information to several law enforcement agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.
Most people on the terrorism watchlist are not Americans and they have no connections to the US, according to the FBI.
Title 42 expired on Thursday, sparking concerns of a possible increase in migrants hoping to cross the US border.
An estimated 60,000 migrants were waiting near the border as the Title 42 rule expired, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said.
He added that nearly 27,000 migrants were in Border Patrol holding facilities and tents as of Thursday, despite the agency only having capacity to hold several thousand people.
Title 42 was the name of an emergency health rule put in place by Donald Trump’s administration in March 2020 – the height of the Covid pandemic.
The rule aimed at curbing the spread of Covid allowed border officials to turn migrants away quickly.
Before it was put in place, migrants could illegally enter the US and ask for asylum. They were then screened, and more often than not released to wait out their immigration cases.
The authority allowed US officials to turn away migrants more than 2.8 million times, with the exception of families and children travelling alone.
Joe Biden vowed during the 2020 Presidential election to “end Trump’s detrimental asylum policies,” and ensure “the dignity of migrants … upholding their legal right to seek asylum”.
In April 2022, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention officially announced they would rescind Title 42, but were blocked from doing so by a federal judge.
But earlier this year, Biden ended the US’ Covid-19 emergency declaration, removing legal justification for Title 42 expulsions.
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