The number of terror suspects attempting to enter the United States illegally has increased significantly since President Joe Biden took office. This surge in suspects, combined with over 1 million unidentified foreign nationals who have evaded apprehension after entering the country, raises serious concerns about national security and the potential for terror attacks.
According to federal data, agents at both the northern and southern borders have apprehended 525 known or suspected terrorists trying to illegally enter the country in the first nine months of this fiscal year. This number is already higher than the total for the entire previous fiscal year, which stood at 478.
However, these figures do not account for the terror suspects who successfully entered the country and managed to evade arrest. US Custom and Border Protection (CBP) refers to these individuals as gotaways, and since the beginning of Biden’s presidency, there have been approximately 1.7 million such cases. This means that some of these individuals could potentially be on the terror suspect list.
Observers and experts warn that the nation’s open borders and the easily exploitable asylum policies not only attract economic migrants but also pose an open invitation to those wishing to harm the US. International terrorist organizations and criminal cartels are well aware of these vulnerabilities and are likely to take advantage of them.
The Department of Homeland Security has not responded to requests for comments regarding this border crisis and the associated national security concerns. However, former acting deputy chief of staff at the department, Lora Ries, states that the current situation at the border poses a significant threat to national security. She points out that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by just 19 individuals, emphasizing the need for heightened vigilance.
A recent government watchdog report highlighted the overwhelmed state of the border. The report, released by the DHS Office of Inspector General in June, revealed that a border patrol agent had caught and released an individual who was on the terror watch list. Due to miscommunication and information sharing problems within the government, it took several weeks for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to apprehend the terror suspect, creating a window of opportunity for a potential attack.
The chaos at the southern border presents ongoing risks to national security, with experts stressing concerns about the number of individuals on the terror watch list among the 1.5 million known gotaways who have entered the country under Biden’s administration. Border patrol agents claim to lack the resources necessary to thoroughly vet the influx of illegal migrants.
While the focus on terrorism may have declined since the 9/11 attacks and subsequent conflicts, the FBI continues to consider it a top threat. In a speech delivered earlier this year at Texas A&M University, FBI Director Christopher Wray emphasized the persistence and complexity of the terrorism threat today. He also noted the serious threats posed by cartel activity and the presence of fentanyl across the southwest border.
For analysts like Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the current volume of people entering the country illegally has overwhelmed border enforcement agencies, leaving them unable to adequately vet individuals before their release. Mehlman emphasizes that the situation enables criminal cartels and international organizations, including those from adversarial nations, to exploit the vulnerabilities at the border.
With the number of Chinese nationals encountered at the border more than doubling since 2020, concerns arise about potential Chinese espionage. Lora Ries points out China’s repeated attempts to spy on Americans and the discovery of a Chinese-owned laboratory in California harboring dangerous bioweapons.
As the situation at the border continues to pose national security risks, experts and analysts argue for stronger border enforcement and policies that address the vulnerabilities currently being exploited. The threat of terrorism remains persistent and multifaceted, requiring ongoing attention and action to ensure the safety and security of the United States and its citizens.