The ‘specially designated country’ list is used by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to screen detained foreigners with an extra step, called a “Third Agency Check.” Overall, the countries on the list are unsurprising, with two exceptions this year. Israel was not on the list in 2008, but now in 2011, it has been added. North Korea, on the other hand, was dropped from the list this year but was on it in 2008.
The Department of Homeland Security published the list of “specially designated countries” as an appendix to a publicly released report on May 11 report entitled “Supervision of Aliens Commensurate With Risk.”
As reported by CNS News, ICE Spokeswoman Gillian Christensen claims the creation of the list began at least seven years ago during the Bush administration, and ICE was not responsible for creating it. According to a written statement by Christensen:
“The U.S. does not and never has considered Israel to have links to terrorism, but rather they are a partner in our efforts to combat global terrorism. Countries may have been included on the list because of the backgrounds of arrestees, not because of the country’s government itself.”
There are only five countries on the list that do not have majority Muslim populations, and those countries have had serious internal problems with radical Muslim terrorist groups or insurgencies.