Abbott: 81 people on ‘watchlist’ found at border since 2021

Immigration

AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott claimed on Tuesday that 81 people on the United State’s Terrorist Screening Dataset (TSDS), also known as the “watchlist,” have been encountered along the U.S.-Mexico border since “Biden took office.”

Recently, Abbott has drawn the ire of officials in New York City and Washington, D.C., for busing migrants from the southern border to the East Coast. The move, under “Operation Lone Star” has cost an estimated $12 million since April, according to the El Paso Times.

The Texas Republican governor claims President Joe Biden’s “refusal to secure the border is a direct threat to our national security.”

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB), 66 individuals on the TSDS were encountered by agents between October and July of 2022. That number is up from 15 in 2021, and three in 2020. Only  0.36% of migrants agents encountered along the southern border between October and July of 2022 were on the watchlist and just 0.001% in 2021.

As of 2017, approximately 1.16 million people were included on the watchlist, according to government documents reviewed by the Associated Press. Roughly 4,600 of them were U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents on the watchlist as of 2017.

Contrary to Abbott’s full claim that “80+ terrorists on the Terrorist Watchlist have been encountered along our southern border since Pres. Biden took office,” being on the watchlist is not a conviction of terrorism charges.

In 2018, under former President Donald Trump, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced what came to be referred to as the “Remain in Mexico” policy that allowed the government to release to Mexico migrants with asylum claims to await their asylum hearings in the U.S.

On Aug. 8, President Joe Biden and the DHS announced the policy would be wound down in a “quick, and orderly manner,” after the Supreme Court ruled on June 30 that the Biden administration could end the policy.

About 70,000 migrants were subjected to the policy from when Trump introduced it in January 2019 until Biden suspended it on his first day in office in January 2021.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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