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Immigration Law

Experts Debunk Border Misinformation

Josh Kelety, Associated Press, Oct. 27, 2022

"Several Republican elected officials have suggested in recent social media posts that almost 100 people on the terrorist watchlist have entered the U.S. along the southwest border. “FACT: at least 98 terrorism suspects illegally crossed our border in the last 12 months,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote Saturday on Facebook. “Biden’s open border is a national security threat.” “98 people on the terrorist watchlist crossed the border into the U.S. in FY22 — that we know of,” GOP Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn wrote on Monday, in a tweet shared more than 1,900 times. “That is nearly 4 times higher than the last five years combined.” The claims are misleading, experts say. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection did report 98 Border Patrol encounters with non-U.S. citizens on the watchlist who crossed the southwest border between U.S. ports of entry in fiscal year 2022. But every person counted as part of that 98-encounter tally was stopped and detained by Border Patrol, and that figure could include people who crossed multiple times. “To say that 98 terrorists made it into the U.S. is an exaggeration,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor at Cornell University who teaches immigration law. “These 98 were all caught.” ... “The mere fact that someone’s name is included in the watchlist does not necessarily mean that they are actually a terrorist,” [Thomas] Warrick [a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and the former deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security] said. “The watchlist is, not surprisingly, broader — and in some cases considerably broader — than the number of actual terrorists at large in the world.”