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FIRST ON FOX: Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee are demanding answers from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on why his agency will not make public the number of apprehended migrants who are on the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) — after DHS purportedly claimed the information was “Law Enforcement Sensitive.”
“The true purpose of a Law Enforcement Sensitive label is to prevent harm from coming to our law enforcement officers and law enforcement-related activities, but it seems that this label is instead being used to protect the reputation of the current political administration,” Reps. John Katko, R-NY, Clay Higgins, R-La., and August Pfluger, R-Texas, said in a letter to Mayorkas, obtained by Fox News.
The Republicans have been pushing for months for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reveal how many migrants were apprehended at the southern border and whose names are present on the TSDB
The database contains information about the identities of those who are “known or reasonably suspected” of being involved in terrorist activities. The lawmakers said they received the number of migrants identified on the TSDB at a classified briefing and now want that number released to the public.
In March, Fox News reported that at least four migrants whose names match those on the terror watch list had been picked up by U.S. Border Patrol since the beginning of the fiscal year. But that number is expected to be much higher, particularly considering the enormous surge in numbers to the southern border — with more than 1.7 million migrant encounters in FY 2021.
“We have terrorist threats we can’t get into in this type of a forum but they are real,” he told Fox News’ Bret Baier in October.
The Homeland Security Committee Republicans pushed DHS on the issue in August, and say they are only looking for the release of the top number of how many have been apprehended — and not more sensitive information such as identities.
“Rather, the topline number being requested by the Committee does not in any way threaten the safety or mission of our honorable law enforcement officers. We believe that releasing this topline number would be an important step towards the transparency promised by the Biden administration which has, so far, been absent,” they say.
The Republicans say that DHS, in response to their request, has said only that the number is “Law Enforcement Sensitive” — a response that the lawmakers say is “blatantly sidestepping our request for transparency and failing to sufficiently respond to a legitimate oversight request from Congress.”
The letter requests the processes, procedures and protocols used to determine what information is eligible to be labeled as law enforcement sensitive. It also requests information on which official makes the final determination on what information is law enforcement sensitive, and any further information on the labeling of the restrictions placed on that topline number.
“Specifically why is that topline number considered as Law Enforcement Sensitive and why did the Biden administration reverse the previous administration’s determination that such information was indeed public information?” they ask.
“It is of the utmost importance that the American people have a complete and transparent view of the threats our homeland faces,” they write. “It is critical that political considerations not stymie transparency and accountability for DHS, including the duty to ensure that the American public is equipped with every viable resource relevant to understanding threats to our homeland security.”