DHS failed to ‘properly’ vet Afghans who pose ‘risk to national security’

The U.S. accepted over 79,000 Afghan evacuees between July 2021 and January 2022 as the Taliban took control of the country.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at a June 2022 event. (DHS/Flickr)

(Daily Caller News Foundation) — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to “properly” vet Afghans deemed a “risk to national security” who were evacuated during the Afghanistan withdrawal in August 2021, a government watchdog report concluded Tuesday.

The DHS Inspector General found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) didn’t have evacuees’ biographical data to properly screen them through government databases, and, in some instances, had inaccurate information on some evacuees. The U.S. accepted over 79,000 Afghan evacuees between July 2021 and January 2022 as the Taliban took control of the country.

U.S. troops left Afghanistan on Aug. 30, 2021 after President Joe Biden ordered a full withdrawal, ushering in Taliban control of the capital. During the evacuation, an explosion killed 13 Marines who were supporting the effort.

“The safety and the security of the American people is the highest priority for the U.S. Government,” the report stated.

“Preventing criminals, suspected terrorists, or other nefarious actors from entering the United States requires thorough screening and vetting. CBP’s use of incomplete or inaccurate data would not have yielded positive matches from intelligence databases if the individuals had derogatory records under a different name or DOB,” the report stated. “Therefore, DHS and CBP cannot be sure they properly screened, vetted, and inspected all evacuees. We found they paroled at least two individuals into the United States who may have posed a risk to national security and the safety of local communities and may have admitted or paroled more individuals of concern.”

The inspector general found that names, birth dates, identification number and travel document data that were processed through U.S. government databases were “inaccurate, incomplete, or missing.” Additionally, CBP allowed evacuees into the country who weren’t fully vetted, the report found.

The vulnerability allowed at least two individuals into the U.S. who posed a security risk, according to the report.

CBP also processed evacuees with “questionable names and dates of birth,” forcing U.S. officials to take evacuees at their word, according to the report. The issue can largely be attributed to the culture in Afghanistan, where some people have only one name and where it isn’t customary to know or record one’s birth date.

The report found that 417 records had unknown first names, 242 had unknown last names and 11,110 had Jan. 1 as their birth dates, which is typically assigned when an actual date can’t be provided by the evacuee, the report found.

There were also 36,400 records where evacuees used a “facilitation document” that CBP couldn’t explain and might’ve had incorrect information, according to the watchdog. Another 7,800 records had “invalid or missing document numbers.”

CBP allowed 35 Afghans to fly to the U.S. without proper clearance and failed to collect the fingerprints of 1,299 evacuees before they came to the U.S., according to the report.

“We attribute DHS’ challenges to not having: (1) a list of Afghan evacuees who were unable to provide sufficient identification documents; (2) a contingency plan to support similar emergency situations; and (3) standardized policies. As a result, DHS may have admitted or paroled individuals into the United States who pose a risk to national security and the safety of local communities,” the watchdog noted.

The White House, however, said that the report failed to include steps it took in ensuring Afghans were vetted.

“That very report did not take into account the key steps in that rigorous and multi-layered screening and vetting process the U.S. government took before at-risk Afghans were permitted to come to the U.S.,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday, adding that DHS “disputed this report.”

DHS didn’t respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.


Jennie Taer