Inspector general flags vetting problems with Afghan evacuees; he should look at southern border

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  vic-eldred  •  6 days ago  •  1 comments

By:   Nolan Rappaport (The Hill)

Inspector general flags vetting problems with Afghan evacuees; he should look at southern border
The need to have effective methods for screening and vetting undocumented migrants doesn't just apply to Afghan evacuees.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



When the United States withdrew its military forces from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, it evacuated more than 79,000 Afghan nationals and brought them to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) paroled approximately 72,550 of them into the United States; the rest included U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and migrant with valid nonimmigrant visas.

Homeland Security's inspector general (IG) conducted an audit to determine the extent to which DHS screened, vetted, and inspected the Afghan evacuees. He issued a report on Sept. 6, in which he concludes that there is an "urgent need to take action to address security risks of evacuees from Afghanistan who were admitted or paroled into the country without sufficient identification documents to ensure proper screening and vetting."

He made two recommendations for meeting this need; DHS rejected both of them.

Lily pads

The evacuees were taken from Afghanistan to facilities in other countries known as "lily pads," where they were screened and vetted. Individuals with a match to derogatory information in government data banks were given "red status," which meant they were not cleared for travel to the United States.

Difficulties

Some individuals in Afghanistan have only one name, and the evacuees did not always know their date of birth. If an evacuee said that he was 20 years old and didn't know his date of birth, DHS usually recorded it as "January 1."

One DHS official said that when an evacuee didn't have a verification document to cross-check against, DHSsimply entered the evacuee's biographic information as told by the individual.

The IG found missing, incomplete, or inaccurate first and last names, birth dates, travel document numbers, travel document types, and visa data in many of the evacuee records.

  • 417 records did not have a first name;
  • 242 did not have a last name;
  • 11,110 had the date of birth recorded as "January 1;"
  • 36,400 had "facilitation document" as the document type, and CBP did not provide an explanation for this document type; and
  • 7,800 had invalid or missing document numbers.

This made reliable vetting difficult; nevertheless, CBP officers were permitted to parole evacuees into the country without proper identification documents if vetting did not uncover derogatory information about them.

IG Recommendation #1: The IG recommended that DHS provide evidence to show that the evacuees received full screening and vetting on the basis of confirmed identification evidence, and ensure that recurrent vetting processes will be carried out for the duration of their parole period.

A DHS representative said the report "does not adequately acknowledge, and account for, the interagency and multilayered vetting process that started overseas, continued at the U.S. port of entry and is currently ongoing with recurrent vetting."

The 72,550 evacuees who were paroled into the United States went through an initial screening at lily pad sites, DHS said. Their biometric and biographic data were taken and vetted to determine whether there was derogatory information about them in government data banks.

DHS notes in this regard that CBP has the authority to grant parole on the basis of a wide range of identity documents and evidence, including information provided during interviews.

But USCIS guidance on evidence for parole requests requires a "clear and legible copy of a valid government-issued photo identification document that shows name and date of birth."

The IG acknowledges CBP's role in supporting interagency efforts. Nevertheless, CBP is responsible for verifying a migrant's identity and admissibility at ports of entry, and CBP did not always have the information it needed to do this properly.

I agree. It doesn't matter how many government data banks are searched if the government agencies don't have information about an evacuee or they can't match the evacuee to data in their data banks. And I don't believe that migrants who have reason to be afraid that vetting might reveal derogatory information about them can be relied upon to provide accurate identity information that could disclose that information.

IG Recommendation #2: The IG also recommended that DHS develop a comprehensive contingency plan to support similar emergency situations in the future in which limited biographic data is available. It should include lessons learned from the Afghan evacuations, and the procedures should ensure accountability and quality assurance.

According to DHS, this was an emergency situation that required an extraordinary evacuation effort. DHS said it will work with its interagency partners to tailor existing procedures to the unique facts and circumstances of any future event.

According to the IG, DHS's response fails to acknowledge the need for improvement in the specific aspects for which it is responsible.

More serious issue

The need to have effective methods for screening and vetting undocumented migrants doesn't just apply to Afghan evacuees. DHS has to screen and vet a much high number of undocumented migrants who make illegal crossings at the Southwest border, and it is releasing many of them.

In May, CPB processed and released 95,318 illegal crossers into the United States that it had encountered at the Southwest border, bringing the total of undocumented migrant releases under the Biden administration to 1,049,532 — which is a population larger than the number of residents in the president's home state of Delaware.

Moreover, the IG issued another report on Sept. 9, that concludes the IT systems at DHS do not effectively allow DHS personnel to track illegal crossers from apprehension to release. Consequently, the release statistics probably aren't very accurate.

Perhaps the IG should do an audit on how these migrants are screened and vetted. I think it would reveal that we know little, if anything, about them.



Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him at https://www.blogger.com/blog/posts/2306123393080132994


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Vic Eldred
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1  seeder  Vic Eldred    6 days ago

That's just part of what the IG has reported on.

Then there is this on the southern border:

 
 

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