Taskforce on Denying Terrorists Entry to the United States
In February 2017, the House Homeland Security Committee established the Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry into the United States (the Task Force). This new Task Force was charged with:
examining how terrorists might infiltrate the homeland; identifying challenges with current U.S. government information sharing and vetting procedures; reviewing the screening agencies’ structure and bureaucracy; and providing substantive recommendations to fix any weaknesses in these systems.”
As a result, the Task Force identified seven challenges and has recorded seven recommendations.
- Current threat is the mass mobilization of foreign fighters with the conflict in Iraq and Syria, with more than 40,000 fighters that include at least 5,000 Europeans.
- Travel is no longer a necessity with the use of cyber recruiting and training.
- Majority of European fighters come from countries with Visa Waiver Programs (VWP).
- Tracking foreign fighters requires cooperation between a number of agencies. However, existing interoperability, legal, and technical challenges obstruct current information sharing efforts.
- There are many departments involved in the authorization of persons coming to the United States. With each having its own procedures and guidelines, the process has developed vulnerabilities.
- Limited resources hinder the Visa Security Program (VSP) development and expansion.
- Information shared on social media is not being fully utilized by government for vetting and screening purposes.
- Terrorist Screening Centers (TSC) goals are more in line with that of DHS, but currently falls under the FBI’s auspices and is not authorized in statute.
- Continuous screening of foreign nationals is not standard practice and is typically done based on a periodic threat assessment.
- Information sharing between the U.S. and VWP countries is inconsistent. Some VWP countries do not have the technical capability or legal authorities needed to participate in automated and continuous information sharing.
The Task Force offers seven detailed recommendations in order to manage the identified threats. The full report can be found on the HSDL.