The Department of Homeland Security will assemble an intelligence team to track migrants heading for the U.S., NBC News reported on Monday.
The new DHS team will collect biometric data and study social media information that could encourage mass migration, according to NBC News. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning to have the team assembled and working by the end of October, according to documents obtained by NBC News.
The team is expected to work with other agency officials in Central and South America to collect information indicating a potential surge in northern migration, NBC News reported. Intelligence gathering would include aerial surveillance of migrant camps and trucks along various borders.
The team will collaborate with U.S. intelligence agencies and connect with law enforcement agencies in foreign countries, according to NBC News. The DHS would likely use the additional information gathered to allocate federal resources to regions where migrants are expected to try to cross into the U.S. and to counter cartel advertisements falsely claiming that the U.S. will allow for the long-term stay of migrants.
A senior DHS official reportedly said the agency wants to offset messages encouraging migrants to make the journey before they leave their home countries, NBC News reported. “Once they’re in Mexico, it’s too late,” the official said.
The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis previously led the agency’s efforts to track migration, but that office reportedly stopped filing migrant movement reports during the Trump administration, two former agency officials said, according to NBC News. The officials worked for the DHS during the Trump administration and said the office was weakened while they were there, but they added that agencies such as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducted their own research.
“The Trump administration’s almost singular focus on building a border wall as the solution to stopping illegal migration and illegal drugs from coming into the country actually resulted in the opposite,” one of the officials, later appointed by President Joe Biden, told NBC News on the condition of anonymity. “It allowed key intelligence and operational capabilities to atrophy.”
Each DHS agency, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Coast Guard and CBP will supply personnel for the new intelligence team, according to NBC News.
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