In May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended 15 illegal immigrants at the southern border who were on the FBI’s terror watchlist. This is the highest number of detained individuals listed on the terrorist watchlist for any month on record, according to reporting from The Daily Caller.
The total number of illegal immigrants encountered by authorities in May hit a new record for President Joe Biden’s administration, reaching 239,416 according to CBP data. This put the total number of illegal immigrant encounters at over 1.5 million for fiscal year 2022.
Experts previously warned that the rise in illegal immigration could lead to an increase in individuals added to the terror watchlist. The CBP Office of Field Operations reports that, in total, CBP has captured 50 people on the terror watchlist at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2022.
Todd Bensman — author of “America’s Covert Border War,” a book detailing the ways in which terrorists take advantage of the U.S. immigration system — spoke with The Washington Times about the concerns surrounding the crisis at the southern border.
“The big worry is with the chaos down there, when you have these kinds of people coming to the border, you have to assume that some of them got in,” Bensman said.
Mark Morgan, a former head of CBP under former President Donald Trump, blamed the issue on Biden’s “open border” immigration policies in a statement to the Times.
“I’m concerned that the next terrorist attacker is already in the United States because of this administration’s open border policies,” Morgan said.
Despite the concerns surrounding the lax policies at the southern border, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the Biden administration’s terrorism policy, claiming that the Department of Homeland Security had played a significant role in protecting Americans from terrorism.
“So then what is the president’s priority, would it be stopping potential terrorist attacks or letting these migrants come in?” Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked Psaki at a press briefing on May 2.
“I think as we noted a couple of weeks ago, when there was reporting about the number of individuals who were on the watchlist being stopped at the border, that that was the Border Patrol doing their jobs,” Psaki replied. “That was the system working and certainly part of the role of the Department of Homeland Security is to keep our country safe, to keep the American people safe and I think that’s an indication of Secretary Mayorkas’ role to do just exactly that.”
Rep. John Katko (R-NY) previously warned that terrorist groups such as al-Qaida will have the ability to “metastasize” and travel into the U.S. through the southern border in the aftermath of the Taliban’s reconquest of Afghanistan.
“This is a very dangerous situation, and what is most disturbing is that the president was just defiant as hell about his decision – it is clear he didn’t listen to his key military advisors – and he did not talk about the biggest implication of his decision which is an increased threat to the homeland,” he told Fox News in 2021.