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Experts: Border Terrorist Watch List Hype Needs Context

October 27, 2023 (1 min read)

Maria Ramirez Uribe, PolitiFact, Oct. 27, 2023

"U.S. immigration officials have encountered rising numbers of people on the watchlist. But not everyone on the list is a terrorist, and not everyone encountered is allowed to enter the country.  Terrorism and immigration experts say that the threat of attacks in the U.S. and Israel are incomparable.  "They both involve borders, but the comparison ends there," David Bier, an immigration expert at the libertarian Cato Institute, previously told us. "People aren’t crossing the border to conduct terrorist attacks or take over parts of the United States. A very small percentage may come to commit ordinary crimes, like selling drugs, but overwhelmingly, they are coming for economic opportunity and freedom." ... "[P]otential terrorists are not getting through but rather are being detected," even when they try crossing between official ports of entry, said Denise Gilman, immigration clinic co-director at the University of Texas School of Law. People on the list are "subject to extremely high scrutiny and are almost certainly detained indefinitely by CBP while they determine what to do with them," said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director for the American Immigration Council, an immigrants’ rights group. "They are not just waved on through." Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration expert at Cornell University, said the increase in encounters with people on the terrorist watchlist "means that there is better coordination between government agencies than before. It does not necessarily mean that more terrorists are trying to enter the country."