Citing risks to national security and public safety, House Republicans have launched a probe over the rising number of terrorism suspects who have been caught attempting to sneaking across the southern border. In the previous seven months, 96 people on the terrorism watchlist have been apprehended at the border so Republican lawmakers are demanding answers from the Department of Homeland Security.
American Family News spoke to Patrick Dunleavy, a senior fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. The fact that known terrorists are walking into the U.S., he says, "should be alarming to all of us."
While nearly 100 individuals have been apprehended, what remains unknown is how many evaded authorities and are now safely hiding inside our borders.
Terrorist watchlists that are compiled from the Terrorist Identities Data Environment (TIDE) are continually updated and forwarded to the National Terrorist Screening Center (NTSC) daily, Dunleavy explains. However, the work is not "foolproof," he says, because the U.S. Border Patrol is being crushed by the sheer number of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
AFN has reported the Border Patrol recorded a record number, 2.2 million illegals, during the 2022 fiscal year. That number doesn't include those who avoided a Border Patrol agent, known as "gotaways," which could very well include an Islamic terrorist from the Middle East and not just a family from Honduras.
On the U.S. side of the border, an Afghan national was apprehended May 10 and a Pakistani national was apprehended May 12. Republican lawmakers are now asking for more information about those two individuals in a May 19 letter sent to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Investigative Project has been focused on exposing radical Islamic terrorists since terrorism expert Steven Emerson founded the non-profit in 1995, but Dunleavy also points out the threat comes from not only those classified as terrorists, but also from others who pose risks to the nation’s security. One example is the famously violent MS-13 gang members, who can easily blend in with other illegal immigrants.
"And once across the border," he points out, "connect with members already in the U.S.”
The Washington Times reported that in April, 16 terrorism suspects were apprehended at the border. While former president Donald Trump's was in office, there were only 11 apprehended.
“While it may make for good political banter, comparing the previous administration’s success versus the present administration’s failures, it does nothing in providing necessary solutions,” Dunleavy laments.
Regardless of who is in the White House, he argues that anyone who is seeking entry to the U.S. needs to be "properly vetted" which means they aren't released into the population until it can be confirmed they have no criminal or terrorist ties.
In addition to threats to national security, Dunleavy says Americans should not discount the economic impact of a porous, open border.
“Border states and major cities are facing financial crisis after crisis with the arrival of more and more illegal immigrants," he warns, "and the federal government has failed to provide the necessary funds to alleviate the burden.”
Finally, despite the alarming threat of a lawless border, Dunleavy says Americans must never forget our nation is a country founded by immigrants seeking religious freedom and economic opportunities.
For many, he points out, “America is still that beacon of light that invites, as Emma Lazarus described, those ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free.' "