At a recent House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX) demanded answers from FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas. In his questioning, Pfluger pointedly asked both men if the FBI is searching for people inside the U.S. who were encountered by Border Patrol agents and are listed on the terror watchlist.
“There are certainly individuals who are the subject of terrorism investigations that we are searching for,” Wray, without mentioning the watchlist, replied at the Nov. 15 hearing.
The watchlist, maintained by the Department of Justice, is formally known as the Terrorist Screening Database. It is a serious topic for Congress and for the public considering Customs and Border Protection has said it has encountered 286 illegal aliens from 2020 to 2023 who matched names on the watchlist.
During the committee hearing, Pfluger pointed out that there are over 169 KSTs who entered the country in fiscal year 2023.
When the Congressman turned to Mayorkas, he asked if there is a policy to detain people whose names are on the terror watchlist.
People who are a national security threat are a "priority" for law enforcement, Mayorkas unhelpfully replied, and they "ought to be detained" if they pose a threat.
Mayorkas would not answer directly, however, when Rep. Pfluger repeatedly asked if Homeland Security has detained people at the border whose names are on the watchlist.
"Based on your testimony," the Texas congressman concluded, "I believe there are people you are searching for that you should have detained."
“Both openly admitted that there are known and suspected terrorists (KSTs) who have not been detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol,” Pfluger, citing the testimony, tells AFN.
A mission to 'expose and demand answers'
Pfluger, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and pilot, represents the 11th congressional district which includes Odessa and Midland in west central Texas. With 20-plus years of military service, Pfluger briefly served on the National Security Council during President Trump's term before stepping down to run for Congress in 2021.
From his seat in Congress, Pfluger tells AFN he is raising concerns because President Biden's "open border policy" has let in record-breaking numbers of illegal aliens.
"Ever since President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas took office, there have been 7.8 million encounters nationwide and 6.5 million encounters at the Southwest border," he points out.
In addition, he adds, another 1.7 million known so-called "gotaways" have evaded Border Patrol agents during Biden's term so far.
Mixed in with that flood of people, Rep. Pfluger concludes, are people who are known to the United States government to pose a threat to our country.
So he considers it his mission to "expose and demand answers from the Biden administration on this security crisis.”