Border Patrol agents detained 15 illegal immigrants on the FBI’s terror watch list in May as they attempted to sneak across the US-Mexico border, a month that also saw a record number of encounters with, according to officials migrants gave.
The possible terrorists were among a staggering 239,416 migrants encountered at the southern border last month, according to a breakdown of figures from Customs and Border Patrol first reported by the Washington Times and obtained from The Post.
The total number of crossings in May marks the highest number of migrant encounters ever recorded in a month, bringing the total number of migrant encounters in fiscal 2022 to more than 1.5 million, according to the latest data released on Wednesday published by CBP.
Experts warn that the rising number of illegal immigrants trying to enter the US could mean many others on the terror list could be slipping in undetected.
“The big concern is the chaos down there, if people like that come to the border, you have to assume some of them got in,” Todd Bensman, author of America’s Covert Border War, about how terrorists trying to take advantage of the immigration system, the Washington Times said.
Bensman, who tracked potential terrorists when he worked for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the average was one in two every few months.
The new total is a “bad number,” he warned
“It’s always a five-alarm fire when someone who is on the TSDB walks by,” he told the newspaper, citing the Terrorist Screening Database
Last month, an Iraqi living in Ohio was arrested by federal agents over a plot to assassinate former President George W. Bush. The plan involved smuggling four ISIS-linked killers across the southern border.
Mark Morgan, CBP commissioner during the Trump administration, said the 15 encounters of people on the watch list and the increase in the total number of migrants point to a “legitimate national security vulnerability on our southern border.”
“I am concerned that the next terrorist attacker is already in the United States because of this administration’s open borders policy,” Morgan told the Washington Times
Rep. John Katko, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, also recalled being criticized last year when he raised concerns among agents about terrorist suspects entering the United States.
“Fast-forward a year, and our initial concerns have not only been confirmed, but have become one of the most troubling facets of the Biden administration’s border crisis,” New York resident Katko told the newspaper in a statement Thursday
He said the chaos at the border made it difficult to determine exactly “how many individuals on the watch list have entered the United States amid the chaos at our southwestern border.”
About 12,000 people are held in CBP custody on an average day, but less than half of them are removed, The Washington Times reported.
The rest are released at the border or transferred to other places.
CBP Those individuals who appear on the terror database and are apprehended after entering the United States may be arrested and deported or handed over to another government agency or law enforcement agency for prosecution.
The agency does not break down these specific numbers.