Unprecedented Arrests of Individuals on FBI Terror Watchlist Among Illegal Immigrants at the Southern Border

The Biden administration’s border policies face renewed criticism as border officials have reported a significant increase in the apprehension of illegal immigrants on the FBI’s terror watchlist over the past year.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data reveals that in September, 18 individuals on the federal terrorist watchlist were encountered between border entry points at the southern border. This brings the total to 169 such encounters for fiscal year 2023, which ended on September 30.

This figure of 169 marks the highest annual count since the establishment of Border Patrol in 1924. It also surpasses the previous records of 98 encounters in fiscal year 2022 and 15 in fiscal year 2021.

When considering illegal immigrants on the FBI terror watchlist apprehended at the northern border entry points, the total for fiscal year 2023 rises to 172.

On October 21, some Republicans pointed to these latest CBP statistics, expressing concerns about the nation’s vulnerability to a potential terrorist attack.

“Potential terrorists are attempting to cross our southern border,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The attack on Israel should serve as a warning as to why we must secure the border.”

“Open borders make us less safe and vulnerable to terrorism. We can’t allow terrorists to sneak into our country and do us harm,” Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) wrote on X.

Since the attack launched by Hamas terrorists on October 7th, more than 1,400 people have lost their lives in Israel. In the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, over 4,000 Palestinians have been reported killed according to Gaza’s health ministry.

“Thanks to @CBP data, it’s obvious when an occupant of the Oval Office doesn’t care about the safety of Americans,” Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), who sits on the Homeland Security Committee, wrote in an X post.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) warned the “gotaway” population—illegal immigrants who have evaded capture—poses severe challenges to the United States.

“With more than a million and a half gotaways, no telling how many more people on terrorist watchlist made it in,” Mr. Cornyn wrote on X. The Biden administration doesn’t know and evidently doesn’t care.”

On October 17, in a post on X, Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens disclosed that over 18,000 illegal immigrants had managed to evade border patrol officials since the beginning of fiscal year 2024, which commenced on October 1.

“Over [18,000] known gotaways in the first 16 days of FY24. These are individuals whose identities & purpose we do not know,” Mr. Owens wrote. “That is why you need every Border Patrol agent to be in the field and on patrol.”

As reported in the news, customs and border authorities have detained several individuals hailing from Iran, Lebanon, and Syria at the Texas southern border this month.

Additionally, on Saturday, CBP disclosed that in September, a record-breaking 269,735 illegal immigrants crossed the southern border. This monthly figure contributes to the overall total of encounters for fiscal year 2023, which has now reached 2.47 million.