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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


Since President Joe Biden took office, more than 200 non-U.S. citizens on the federal terrorist watchlist tried to enter the U.S. between legal ports of entry and were stopped by Border Patrol.

Here are the Border Patrol encounters with people on the watchlist, according to the latest figures:

Fiscal 2023 (Oct. 1, 2022-Sept. 30, 2023): 154

Fiscal 2022 (Oct. 1, 2021-Sept. 30, 2022): 98

Fiscal 2021 (Oct. 1, 2020-Sept. 30, 2021): 16

Biden succeeded Donald Trump as president on Jan. 20, 2021.

The watchlist contains known or suspected terrorists and individuals “who represent a potential threat.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, who represents most of northern Wisconsin, referred to watchlist encounters in an interview Oct. 17, 2023.

He proposed legislation in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that would prohibit anyone with a passport issued by the Palestinian Authority from entering the U.S.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


AP News: Posts misrepresent border encounters with people on terror watchlist

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: CBP Enforcement Statistics Fiscal Year 2023

Rep. Tom Tiffany: Rep. Tom Tiffany Explains to Newsmax Why the GAZA Act is so Important

New York Times: Here’s a timeline of Saturday’s attacks and Israel’s retaliation.

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for Milwaukee Magazine and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.