Biden admin scrambles to stop releasing migrants from ISIS hotbed country into US — but hundreds have already crossed

The Biden administration is scrambling to stop migrants from an ISIS recruiting hotbed from being released into the US after they cross the border — despite hundreds already pouring in so far this year.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers received orders in the last few weeks that migrants from Tajikistan shouldn’t be released from custody. If they are, they need to be interviewed by intelligence officials first, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) source told The Post.

Former DHS officials told The Post that the new order is an attempt to close the barn door after eight Tajik nationals were arrested in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia for suspected ISIS ties, as previously revealed by The Post.

“It seems like the damage is already done. I appreciate they’re trying to do what they can after the fact. The bottom line is, if they would turn on the Trump policies, secure the border, end catch and release, they’d be a hell of a lot safer,” said Tom Homan, former acting ICE director.

Tajikistan has become a major recruiting source for ISIS and its affiliate ISIS-K. AFP via Getty Images

More than 1,500 Tajik migrants are known to have crossed the southern border between October 2020 and May 2024, according to leaked border data obtained by The Post.

So far this year, at least 500 Tajiks have been stopped.

During the previous 14 years, just 26 Tajiks were caught crossing.

It’s not clear how many of those migrants have been released into the US — though before a Biden “crackdown” at the border last month, the vast majority of migrants were given court dates and then cut loose.

Migrants from Tajikistan have been coming across the southern border in droves under the Biden administration. Getty Images
Across central asia, security forces have tried to crack down on the influence of ISIS and its affiliates. AFP via Getty Images

The new order from ICE brass adds Tajikistan to the agency’s list of “heightened threat level countries” — which means migrants must be held for a security review if they are going to be released into the US, the DHS source said.

“The rule of thumb under this administration is let everybody into the country, attempt to vet them after the fact,” Charles Marino, a former senior law enforcement advisor at DHS, said.

“That flies in the face of common sense.”

Marino said it’s very difficult to effectively vet Tajik nationals and others from central Asia unless they had previously come to the attention of US counter-terrorism agents.

Most of the migrants are “going to be a ghost” and have no available record at all, he said.

Former ICE Chief of Staff Jon Feere said the Biden administration has created “a last line of defense situation” where the federal government should have stopped Tajiks from entering the US at all — and ordered them to seek asylum from a nation closer to their own country.

Migrants from across the globe have been flocking to the San Diego region of the southern border in recent months. James Breeden for the New York Post

Federal officials have said the US is in a “heightened” threat environment and FBI Director Chris Wray has publicly warned about a possible “coordinated attack” in the US following an ISIS-K attack on a concert hall in Moscow — carried out by citizens of Tajikistan — which killed 145 people and wounded hundreds more on March 22.

Tajikistan, which borders China and Afghanistan, has become a major recruitment hub for ISIS and its affiliate ISIS-K.

Wray also testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee about concerns surrounding a human smuggling operation at the southern border believed to be tied to ISIS. Following Wray’s testimony, it was revealed that over 400 migrants were brought to the US through the operation, while roughly 50 remain at large.

Border Patrol agents apprehended 372 migrants whose names appear on the terror watchlist between October 2020 and May 2024, according to federal data.

Between fiscal years 2017 and 2020, just 11 were caught.

ICE didn’t respond to The Post’s request for comment.

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