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GOP House leaders send letter to Mayorkas demanding answers on known terrorists released into U.S.

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U.S. Representatives Mark Green, R-Tenn., August Pfluger, R-Texas, and Clay Higgins, R-Louisiana, sent a letter Wednesday to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas requesting information about U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing and detention procedures for inadmissible aliens already identified on the Terrorist Screening Dataset, the federal database that contains sensitive information on terrorist identities.

The inquiry comes after members of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security are learned that Border Patrol agents are releasing known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) into the country. In fiscal 2023, the greatest number of KSTs, 736, were apprehended at the northern and southern borders, The Center Square reported. This fiscal year, as of March 22, 210 known or suspected terrorists were apprehended attempting to illegally enter the U.S., according to CBP data. The majority are being apprehended at the northern border.

The Center Square reports that Green chairs the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security; Pfluger chairs the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence; Higgins chairs the Subcommittee on Border Security and Enforcement.

“The committee is concerned with DHS’s current practices in processing and releasing known or suspected terrorists encountered at the Southwest border,” the lawmakers wrote. The committee notes that over 350 illegal foreign nationals identified as KSTs have been apprehended attempting to illegally cross the southwest border between ports of entry since the beginning of fiscal 2021.

They also said that since Feb. 1, 2024, their staffs have contacted DHS several times to confirm and clarify the facts surrounding reports of KSTs being released into the country.

“However, our questions have not been answered,” they said. “In addition to these unanswered requests for information, we are now facing a consistent stream of cases highlighted in the news of aliens allegedly on the terrorist watchlist either being apprehended at the border or discovered in the interior.”

The Center Square summarizes some of the specific cases cited by the congressional members:

They cite several examples. One includes a Somali who’d been in the country illegally for a year and was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Minnesota. The Somali, reportedly a member of the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab, was caught and released by Border Patrol agents in San Ysidro, California, in March 2023.

Another includes a Lebanese man with ties to the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah. He was apprehended between ports of entry in March 2024 and reportedly told federal agents he planned to travel to New York and make a bomb.

Another includes an Eritrean man who last month opened fire on a convenience store where he worked, allegedly attacked law enforcement officers and later engaged in a stand-off with officers from his camper van in North Carolina. He reportedly illegally entered the U.S. after living in Haiti and has been living in North Carolina for six months.

In another case, a Pakistani man illegally entered the U.S. and was apprehended by Border Patrol agents. Less than two weeks later, the Terrorist Screening Center confirmed he was on the terror watchlist. Despite this, ICE agents released him through Mayorkas’ Alternatives to Detention Program, a program identified by the lawmakers as illegal.

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Elections

GOP bill proposes extra measures to ensure noncitizens are unable to vote in federal elections

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GOP members of both the U.S. House and Senate introduced a bill to add safeguards to ensure that non U.S. citizens who are already prohibited from voting in federal elections, do not do so. The bill seeks to amend the National Voter Registration Act to require documentary proof of United States citizenship to register to vote.

The Center Square reports that It would require states to obtain proof of citizenship – in person – when registering an individual to vote. Applicants would have to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote in person, when applying for a motor vehicle license, and when applying to vote by mail. The bill lists accepted citizenship documentation and requirements for voter registration agencies.

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, led a coalition of 49 Republicans to introduce the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act in the U.S. House. U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, with several cosponsors, introduced the same bill in the Senate.

Citing the border crisis and the greatest number of foreign nationals illegally entering the country in U.S. history, the measure’s supporters expressed alarm that instead of being deported, many are being registered to vote.

“There is currently an unprecedented and a clear and present danger to the integrity of our election system,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said. “And that is the threat of non-citizens and illegal aliens voting in our elections. In the last five and a half months or so, I’ve been to over 101 cities doing events all around the country in more than half the states. The first or second question that I’m asked in every public forum is about election security. Americans are deeply concerned about this. And it doesn’t matter where you live or whether you’re in a blue state or a red state, everyone’s concerned.”

Johnson blamed President Joe Biden and his administration’s policies for for what he described as widespread concern about election integrity.

“… we now have so many non-citizens in the country that if only one out of 100 of those voted, they would cast hundreds of thousands of votes,” the speaker added. “And since our elections are so razor thin in these days that we’re in, just a few precincts in a few states decide the makeup of Congress and who is elected to the White House. This is a dangerously high number, and it’s a great concern to millions and millions of Americans. It could obviously change the outcome of our elections, and this is not an empty threat or concern.”

It is already a federal crime for non-citizens to vote in a federal election. Despite this, Johnson said, “no current mechanism to ensure only those registering or voting are actually citizens. … If a nefarious actor wants to intervene in our elections, all they have to do is check a box on a form and sign their name. That’s it. That’s all that’s required. And there’s a very small chance that illegal would get caught [because] states do not have the election infrastructure in place to confirm what they’ve said.”

Johnson said noncitizens “can simply go to their local welfare office or the DMV and register to vote there,” adding that “states are currently prohibited from asking someone to prove that they’re a citizen when they use the federal voter registration form.”

He also gave examples of “a growing number of localities” that are “blurring the lines for non-citizens by allowing them to vote in municipal local elections.

“You might not know this, but non-citizens are voting,” he warned Americans. “Democrats have expressed a desire to turn on citizens and voters. That’s what this open border has been all about.”

Roy said the proposed SAVE Act “would thwart Democrat efforts to cement one-party rule by upholding and strengthening current law that permits only U.S. citizens to vote in Federal elections.”

Lee said the bill should “pass right away” and unanimously in both houses of Congress. “The only reason to oppose this … would be if you want noncitizens to vote.”

It also would create a new program requiring the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration to share information with state registration systems. States would be required to identify noncitizens attempting to register to vote by accessing data in DHS’ Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program and the SSA’s Social Security Number Verification Service. The information would be compared with data from state agencies that supply state identification cards or driver’s licenses.

The bill also would require states to remove non-citizens from existing voter rolls and increases federal penalties for those who register non-citizens to vote in federal elections.

 

 

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