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November 16, 2021

The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Mayorkas,

We write seeking sufficient clarification regarding a response we received from the Department
of Homeland Security (DHS) to a Committee oversight letter. On August 10, 2021, the
Committee sent a letter to you concerning the total number of individuals who have been
apprehended attempting to cross the border and who have subsequently been identified as
individuals present within the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). Specifically, our letter
contained concerns surrounding the “Law Enforcement Sensitive” label that DHS placed on that

The total number of individuals trying to cross over the border into the United States is not
classified or sensitive information and has been publicly shared in multiple forums previously.
However, under the Biden Administration, this information has been given a Law Enforcement
Sensitive label that prevents it from being shared with the general public. As we stated in our
August 10, 2021 letter, the Committee is not requesting that any classified or sensitive details be
released, such as personally identifiable information or other derogatory information related to
those who have been apprehended at the border. Rather, the topline number being requested by
the Committee does not in any way threaten the safety or mission of our honorable law
enforcement officers. We believe that releasing this topline number would be an important step
towards the transparency promised by the Biden Administration which has, so far, been absent.1

The true purpose of a Law Enforcement Sensitive label is to prevent harm from coming to our
law enforcement officers and law enforcement-related activities, but it seems that this label is
instead being used to protect the reputation of the current political administration. It is of the
utmost importance that the American people have a complete and transparent view of the threats
our homeland faces. It is critical that political considerations not stymie transparency and
accountability for DHS, including the duty to ensure that the American public is equipped with
every viable resource relevant to understanding threats to our homeland security.

“Biden White House Pledges Data, Transparency, Respect for Free Press,” Reuters, 20 January 2021 <
free-press-idUSKBN29Q08S> .
The Department responded to our request on September 15, 2021. In the response letter, you
simply reiterated your position that information on the number of individuals apprehended at the
border who were also found on the TSDB was considered Law Enforcement Sensitive, blatantly
sidestepping our request for transparency and failing to sufficiently respond to a legitimate
oversight request from Congress. As stated in the initial August 10, 2021 letter, the Committee
understands that this information has been deemed “Law Enforcement Sensitive” by the
Department. What we still do not understand and what we asked clarification on is why.

In an effort to, once again, seek transparency and accountability on behalf of the American
people, please provide the following in response to this letter:
1. An explanation of any processes, procedures, and protocols utilized by the Department of
Homeland Security to determine what information the Department does or does not label
as Law Enforcement Sensitive and how that determination is made.
2. Details on the particular agency official who made the final determination that the total
number of individuals apprehended attempting to cross the border and subsequently
identified as individuals present within the TSDB is Law Enforcement Sensitive.
3. Information, including digital documents and correspondence, regarding the labelling
determination of the total number of individuals apprehended attempting to cross the
border and subsequently identified as individuals present within the TSDB as Law
Enforcement Sensitive. Specifically, why is that topline number considered Law
Enforcement Sensitive and why did the Biden Administration reverse the previous
administration’s determination that such information was indeed public information?

We ask you to provide answers to these and our previously submitted questions in a timely
manner. Should you or your staff have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to
Adrienne Spero on the Committee staff at (202) 226-8417. Thank you for your prompt attention
to this matter.



Ranking Member Member of Congress

Member of Congress

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