A Turkish national with ties to terrorism was deported from the United States last week, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The man, Volkan Gogebakan, 31, was turned over to Turkish officials at Istanbul airport on April 22, ICE stated. He had crossed the border illegally near El Paso, Texas, on Sept. 23, 2021, and was apprehended the same day, officials said.
Gogebakan was subsequently convicted of unlawful entry and transferred to ICE.
ICE said the man is “suspected of providing support to terrorist organizations,” but didn’t elaborate.
“Dangerous foreign criminals are a threat to homeland and border security as well as public safety,” said Kenneth Genalo, acting field office director for ERO El Paso, in an April 26 statement.
The number of Turkish nationals being apprehended for unlawful entry into the United States has jumped exponentially since 2020, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data indicates.
During fiscal year 2020, 2,580 Turkish nationals were apprehended, while in fiscal 2021, 4,989 were captured. In the first six months of fiscal 2022, 7,343 Turkish nationals have been taken into custody, according to CBP.
The countries of origin of the 400,000 illegal aliens who have evaded Border Patrol in fiscal 2021 are unknown.
In mid-December last year, Border Patrol agents apprehended a 21-year-old male “potential terrorist” from Saudi Arabia, according to Chris Clem, the chief patrol agent in the Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector.
The man is “linked to several Yemeni subjects of interest,” Clem wrote on Twitter at the time in a since-deleted tweet.
In two separate incidents in January and March 2021, two Yemeni men on the FBI’s terror watchlist were arrested by Border Patrol after crossing the border illegally just west of the Calexico Port of Entry in California. A statement about the Yemenis has since been removed from the CBP website.
Since Jan. 20, 2021, Border Patrol and customs officials have arrested 42 subjects who were on the terror watchlist and No-Fly list and attempted to enter the United States illegally, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s response to Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas).
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on April 28, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said he didn’t know if any of the 42 suspected terrorists had been released into the United States.
“I will provide that data to you with regard to the disposition of each one. I do not know the answer to your question,” Mayorkas replied to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “Some of them may still be in detention,” he said.
Mayorkas told Roy during the hearing that his agency has “operational control” of the border.
The DHS states on its website its definition of operational control:
“The security of our Nation depends on operational control over air, land, and maritime borders to prevent terrorists, transnational criminal organizations, and other threat actors from exposing the United States to malicious and illicit activity outside our borders, including drug and weapons trafficking and human smuggling.”
In the past six months, more than 1 million illegal immigrants from 157 countries have been apprehended at the southern border, according to Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz.