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Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has started posting the numbers of individuals encountered at the border whose names are on the terror watch list for the first time since the Trump administration — after months of pressure from Republican lawmakers in Congress.
CBP started posting the numbers online last week, after promising Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee who had peppered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with requests that the number of those encountered who were recorded on the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) be given to Congress and made public.
After Biden took office in January 2021, CBP stopped publicly posting updates on TSDB encounters at the border, labeling the information as “law enforcement sensitive,” even though the Trump administration had previously released this data to the public, which frustrated the GOP congressmen demanding the info.
The numbers show that the number of TSDB encounters at ports of entry by CBP’s Office of Field Operations increased from Fiscal Year 2017, where there were 333 TSDB encounters (217 at the northern border and 116 at the southern border) to a recent high of 538 in FY 2019 (258 at the northern border and 280 at the southern border). After FY 2019 it decreased to 196 in FY 2020 and 157 in FY 2021.
Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., leaves the Capitol after the House vote on an impeachment inquiry resolution on Thursday, October 31, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
FY 2022 is currently on track to outpace FY 2021’s numbers, with 131 TSDB encounters so far — 96 encountered at the northern border and 35 at the southern border.
As for those encountered by Border Patrol entering between ports of entry, the numbers have increased from two encounters in FY 2017 to 16 in FY 2021 (15 of whom were encountered at the southern border). So far in FY 2022, that number is already higher, with 27 TSDB encounters — all of them at the southern border.
The Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) contains information about the identities of those who are known or “reasonably suspected” of being involved in terrorist activities.
The number does not count the number who got past overwhelmed Border Patrol agents at the southern border. Fox News reported last month that over 62,000 illegal immigrants evaded Border Patrol agents in March alone, averaging about 2,000 a day.
In a letter reviewed by Fox News Digital dated April 26 to Homeland Security Ranking Member Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., and Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus committed to providing updates on TSDB data each month on CBP’s website.
It appears CBP first posted the TSDB data the following day on April 27.
Former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott had repeatedly sounded the alarm over the number of TSDBs coming across the border, telling fellow agents last year that it was “at a level we have never seen before.”
Chris Magnus appears before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on his nomination to be the next U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner ( Rod Lamkey/Pool via REUTERS/File Picture)
Republicans on the committee had pushed the Biden administration on the matter with letters in August, November and March — pushing back against the administration’s failure to make the number of TSDB encounters public. In addition, Pfluger introduced legislation to require DHS to publish the numbers monthly in January and the members held a meeting with Magnus in February where they discussed the importance of disclosing the data.
In March, Republicans on both the House Oversight and Homeland Security Committees urged Mayorkas to allow the number to be made public.
“The American people deserve to know this information and the realities of the security situation we face at our broken borders, especially where terrorists attempt to gain entry to our country,” Reps. Katko and James Comer, R-Ky., said in the letter.
CBP did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.