With the number of immigrants coming to the U.S. increasing, there have been dozens of encounters in 2022 with individuals who are on the terrorist watchlist.
According to Customs and Border Patrol data, there have been a total of 78 apprehensions at the border of individuals who appear on “the Terrorist Screening Dataset (TSDS) — also known as the ‘watchlist.’”
Twelve individuals on the FBI’s TSDS were apprehended in August alone, Fox News reported.
Even though there are still two more months in the fiscal year, the 78 apprehensions already recorded this year already go far beyond the fiscal years of 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
With CBP data collected from both the northern and southern U.S. borders, in 2017, there were two arrests of people who were on the terrorist watchlist. In 2018, that number increased to 6. Both 2019 and 2020 ended with three arrests. Finally, 2021 ended with 16 arrests, according to CBP data.
Though the data records the total number of arrests between the northern and southern borders, nearly all of them happened at the southern border. There were no arrests at the northern border in 2017, 2018 and 2020. There were only three in 2019 and one in 2021.
In 2022, all 78 apprehensions of individuals on the terror watchlist were at the southern border, the CBP data shows.
While the increase in the number of apprehensions in 2022 is considerable, Rodney Scott, the former chief of Border Patrol, reminded the Washington Times that those were just the ones caught. There are likely many others that cross the border undetected.
“Those are the ones that Border Patrol put their hands on,” Scott said in a summer interview with the Times.
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Overall, there has been a surge in people coming across the border, and in 2022, so far, there have been nearly 2.5 million apprehensions at the border, CBP data showed.
The number of apprehensions has increased significantly year by year for the past several years, CBP data showed. In 2021 there were just about 1.9 million apprehensions. In 2019, there were 1.1 million. In 2018, there were only about 683,000 apprehensions.
Customs and Border Patrol and other agencies, like the FBI, have noted that the increasing numbers of people flooding the U.S. border is a serious challenge, Fox News reported.
Chris Magnus, the CBP commissioner, said that dramatic political issues in South America are leading to demographic shifts, pushing people north to the U.S.
“Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest U.S. border,” Magnus said in a statement on Monday, according to Fox News.
Meanwhile, Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, simply noted that there is an increasing security issue at the southern border as more people try to enter the U.S. and the CBP has quite a challenge facing it.
“I have been to ports of entry, including not that long ago, with [Customs and Border Protection] officers walking me through it, so I could really see firsthand what they’re up against, and all I can say is, boy, they’ve got a heck of a challenge, and I admire their grit and determination to get the job done, but it’s a daunting one,” Wray said, Fox News reported.
But there are also many who are directly blaming the Biden administration and its border policies.
In a June report from the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Republican lawmakers heavily criticized President Joe Biden for his border policies that they said put national security at risk.
“The illegal migration crisis at the U.S. southern border presents a national security threat and a humanitarian catastrophe for the vulnerable people involved. Illegal migration to the United States has reached monumental levels since the Biden Administration entered office,” the report read.
“Failure to make meaningful progress in these areas will severely undermine the capacity of U.S. law enforcement to protect our nation’s borders and the safety of communities; needlessly expose countless more vulnerable individuals to ruthless predatory behavior by criminal groups; and erode internationally-recognized human rights and democratic governance across Latin America and the Caribbean,” the report added.
To counteract the possible threat from the increased migration, the report suggested that the administration strengthen law enforcement at the border, combat the organized crime that aids illegal immigration and “improve regional security and migration management capacities.”