Joe Guzzardi | The Newest Big Immigration Lie: ‘Fully Vetted’


If Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, the Committee on the Judiciary’s ranking member, can’t properly explain the vetting process for illegal immigrants to a national television audience, then the border morass will deepen. 

Talking about the eight recently apprehended Tajikistan nationals with ISIS ties, Graham faulted immigration enforcement agencies for catching and releasing first, and then vetting. Graham is, to use the day’s popular phrase, “spreading disinformation!” 

More precisely, Graham is flat-out wrong; meaningful vetting occurs only rarely after the illegal aliens have surged the border. Presenting a driver’s license or a passport from a faraway country as part of a brief interview with an immigration officer is not vetting.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, working in tandem with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, apprehended eight Tajikistan nationals linked to ISIS. The arrests occurred in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Seven Tajikistani nationals crossed the U.S. border with Mexico illegally, but one used the CBP One app, which the Biden administration created without congressional approval to allow illegal aliens to book asylum claim appointments. 

Neither Customs and Border Protection nor Department of Homeland Security screening uncovered suspicious background information. The potential terrorists, immigration officials assured the public after the fact, were “fully vetted.”

As one news story described a Tajiki who enter illegally through San Diego, he “… had crossed the border, was vetted by agents, then allowed into the country with a court date last year, according to sources.” Mohammad Kharwin, a foreign national who is also on a federal terrorist watchlist because of his associations with Afghan-based terrorist organization Hezb-e-Islami, was released from ICE custody into the Alternatives to Detention program on March 12, 2023. He was initially arrested just two days prior in San Ysidro, after having illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Under the terms of his release, Kharwin was able to apply for work authorization and fly within the U.S. with no restrictions on his movements, under the sole condition that he was to periodically report to an ICE official over the phone. A year later, ICE arrested Kharwin in San Antonio, Texas, after the FBI provided information that confirmed his membership in Hezb-e-Islami.

Vetting Tajikistanis and other illegal immigrants as they cross the border is impossible. Agents can only check crime and terrorism databases from allies willing to share information. That excludes most of the hundreds of countries from which the current surge is arriving. The greater the border crisis gets, the looser background checks become. 

At Jacumba, California, Chinese nationals present a piece of white paper, a symbol of dissent against the country’s totalitarian government. The flimsy sheet of paper often serves as ID and allows the bearer to be released into the interior and eventually get an immigration court appointment. Illegal aliens’ movements between their release and their years-away eventual court date is anyone’s guess.

China is U.S.’s No. 1 enemy. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayoras, however, could not be more welcoming. Mayorkas instructed CBP officials to radically reduce the number of interview questions for apprehended Chinese illegal aliens from roughly 40 to just five. In April, the House Committee on Homeland Security released its “Starting Stats” fact sheet, which found that in FY24, 24,376 Chinese nationals had been caught illegally crossing the Southwest border. Encounters of Chinese nationals in March 2024 increased over 8,000% compared to March 2021, and have surpassed last year’s fiscal total––just six months into FY24. March also showed a historic high for encounters along the busiest sector of the northern border, the Swanton Sector, which saw a 50% increase compared to the previous March, and more than a 2,000% increase compared to March of FY21. More than 1,000 Chinese nationals have crossed the northern border every month for the past five months, a statistic that should, but does not, alarm the White House.

Immigration vetting means assuring that each unknown migrant isn’t a confirmed terrorist and doesn’t have a criminal record, contagious disease, or prior immigration violations. In-depth vetting is important, since those currently being released are mostly young and will be living in the U.S. for decades. CBP agents can only check crime and terrorism databases from the U.S. or some allies. 

Mayorkas’ DHS’ hands-off approach to processing illegal aliens is a far cry from how meaningful vetting is done. Vetting, properly carried out, involves multiple federal agencies conducting meticulous security screenings, which include biographic and identity investigations as well as FBI biometric fingerprint and photographic collection. Medical screenings are mandatory. The National Counterterrorism Center/Intelligence Community and the FBI do final evaluations. From start to finish, a full vetting can take a year or more.

During the Afghan withdrawal, the White House gave repeated assurances that those boarding flights to the U.S. either had been or would be, upon landing, fully vetted. Months later, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mayorkas admitted, “We are not conducting in-person, full refugee interviews of 100%” of Afghan evacuees. Biden issued a presidential directive ordering ground personnel to fill up the planes out of Afghanistan without vetting.

On homeland safety issues, Biden and his chief lieutenant Mayorkas have no credibility. With 10 million illegal aliens roaming around who knows where, the odds favor that America will suffer the consequences of the White House’s betrayal.

Joe Guzzardi is an Institute for Sound Public Policy analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS