U.S. Border Patrol apprehended at least 23 individuals included on the nation’s terror watchlist last year, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) information.
“Between Jan. 20 and Dec. 27, 2021, there were 23 encounters with individuals whose names matched on the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB),” Fox News reported.
“Four were in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, 4 in Del Rio Sector, 3 in El Paso Sector, 2 in Tucson Sector, 2 in Yuma Sector, 4 in El Centro Sector and 4 in San Diego Sector,” the report added, noting the information was obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted in December.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) took to Twitter to call out the report, stating, “If Border Patrol stopped 23 people on the terrorist watchlist last year, that begs the question: Who are we not catching?”
If Border Patrol stopped 23 people on the terrorist watchlist last year, that begs the question: Who are we not catching?https://t.co/BlFSAykmQG
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) April 18, 2022
Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs also blasted the Biden administration following the report.
“Let’s not forget there are still many who sneak by agents and we know little about,” he noted.
In 2021, Border Patrol apprehended nearly two dozen people coming across the southern border whose names are on the terror watchlist.
Let's not forget there are still many who sneak by agents and we know little about.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) April 18, 2022
Last month, Rep. John Katko (R-NY), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. James Comer (R-KY), ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, also spoke out against security concerns regarding the nation’s southern border in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“Public reporting indicates that at least several potential terrorists were apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol personnel after illegally crossing the border last year. And it is likely that the numbers of terrorists apprehended is much higher than publicly known,” the lawmakers said in a statement.
“The American people deserve to know this information and the realities of the security situation we face at our broken borders, especially where terrorists attempt to gain entry to our country,” they added.
The Terrorist Screening Center page on the FBI’s website notes that most people on the terrorism watchlist are not Americans. “For security reasons, the TSC does not confirm anyone’s status on the watchlist,” the FBI’s page states.
The report also comes as the Biden administration prepares to end the use of Title 42 in May, rolling back a Trump-era policy implemented to turn away migrants at the southern border to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Concerns continue to grow that the policy change could lead to an additional spike in illegal crossings. Border officials are preparing for up to 18,000 illegal crossings per day, a number that could exceed 540,000 people per month.
The costly response would also include a large increase in personnel. An additional 2,500 law enforcement officers, 2,750 support staff and, over 1,000 medical personnel at the southern border could be required, according to the DHS report.