Terrorists could take advantage of the crisis at the southern border – If 2.2 million encounters between border patrol authorities and migrants attempting to cross illegally weren’t a massive problem in itself already, law enforcement has another dilemma to deal with – the possibility of terrorists entering the U.S. through the southern border.
The increase in hostilities in the Middle East has also prompted increased concerns that terrorists may use the continued crisis at the U.S. Mexico border to slip into the U.S. unnoticed.
Jeh Johnson, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under former president Barack Obama, warned that “there are a lot of people entering our southern border right now. Thousands and thousands. It’s a hemispheric move north bigger than anything we’ve ever seen.”
Fox News also reported that sources from the U.S. Customs Border and Patrol say that the agency has caught thousands of “special interest aliens” trying to cross over into the U.S. illegally. “Special interest aliens” are individuals from countries that U.S. deems to have conditions that promote or protect terrorism and could potentially pose a threat to national security.
The news outlet says that CBP data it obtained shows 6,386 nationals from Afghanistan alone tried to enter the U.S. though its border with Mexico between October 2021 and October 2023. More than 3,100 migrants from Egypt were caught by the CBP, while 659 and 538 nationals from Iran and Syria, respectively, attempted to enter the U.S. illegally through the same means.
The CBP report also indicated that agents caught 13,624 Uzbekistan nationals, 30,830 Turkish nationals, and 15,594 Mauritanian nationals also attempting to make illegal crossings, along with hundreds more from countries like Jordan, Yemen, and Iraq.
What’s more, there has also been an uptick of apprehensions at the border of individuals listed on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist.
Border Patrol says that it has managed to catch 151 migrants that are on the watchlist, compared to the 98 in 2022 and 15 in 2021.
It is important to note, however, that not all individuals on the watchlist are considered terrorists. No individuals connected to or affiliated with Hamas have been apprehended at the border for several years.
“While we do not have specific and credible intelligence indicating a threat to the United States at this time stemming from the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement, adding that the agency will be “closely monitoring unfolding events and will continue to engage in information sharing with our intelligence and law enforcement partners at home and abroad.”
Joe Biden Has a Problem on His Hands
The concerns come at a time when president Joe Biden faces backlash from both sides of the aisle for his border policies.
Liberals have attacked Biden recently for approving funding for the construction of additional border walls in areas in Texas.
At the same time, Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for allegedly failing to secure the southern border properly and preventing illegal crossings. Recent polls also show that Americans generally have a dim view of the government’s border policies, with 71% of respondents saying that the government is not doing enough to secure the border.
Even Democrats and Biden voters have conceded that more needs to be done to secure the U.S.’ border with Mexico.
Tim Ramos has written for various publications, corporations, and organizations – covering everything from finance, politics, travel, entertainment, and sports – in Asia and the U.S. for more than 10 years.