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Biden administration rushes to close loophole that allowed a migrant on terror watchlist to be released

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The Biden administration is taking steps to close a loophole in immigration proceedings that allowed a man on the terrorist watchlist to roam free in the U.S. for more than a year. The Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently issued a memo that overrides a 2004 directive, making it easier for officials to share classified information during immigration cases. This change comes after a report from NBC News highlighted the case of Mohammad Kharwin, an Afghan migrant who was on the terrorist watchlist but was released on bond by an immigration judge in Texas.

Kharwin, who is a member of Hezb-e-Islami, a designated terrorist group by the U.S., was initially caught crossing the border in 2023 but was released from custody due to a lack of biometric information linking him to the watchlist. He lived in the U.S. for over a year before being arrested by ICE earlier this year. However, ICE prosecutors withheld evidence of his watchlist status, arguing that he was a flight risk. Kharwin was set to appear in court for an asylum hearing in 2025 but was arrested again in San Antonio shortly after the NBC News report was published.

The 2004 policy that Mayorkas overturned required prosecutors to seek approval from the Department of Homeland Security secretary to use classified information in immigration cases. The new policy makes it easier for agencies like ICE or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to share such information with approval from their agency heads. The administration is also considering allowing more employees to obtain security clearances to access classified information, particularly due to the evolving threat landscape from transnational criminal organizations and terrorist groups.

The DHS official highlighted that there has been a significant shift in the involvement of transnational criminal organizations in the movement of people in the hemisphere, particularly individuals from the Eastern hemisphere. The official noted that the terrorist threat landscape has become more complex in recent years, stressing the need for improved access to classified information in immigration proceedings. Neither DHS nor the White House immediately responded to a request for comment from Fox News Digital regarding the changes in immigration policy.

Overall, the Biden administration’s efforts to close the loophole in immigration proceedings and prevent individuals on the terrorist watchlist from evading detection and deportation highlight the ongoing challenges and complexities in national security and border control. By streamlining the process for sharing classified information and potentially increasing security clearances for agency employees, the administration aims to enhance its ability to identify and address potential threats posed by individuals with ties to terrorist organizations. This shift in policy underscores the importance of maintaining vigilance and adaptability in addressing evolving threats to national security.

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