Over the past two years, U.S. Border Patrol agents have apprehended many individuals, termed as “special interest aliens,” from various nations including the Middle East while they tried to enter the U.S. through its southern frontier. This designation is given to individuals from nations the U.S. believes could have ties to terrorist activities or could pose a national security risk.
The disclosed internal data from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) indicates several apprehensions at the southern boundary between October 2021 and October 2023. The data, authenticated by various CBP insiders, reveals encounters with 6,386 individuals from Afghanistan, 3,153 from Egypt, 659 from Iran, and 538 from Syria, among others from different countries.
However, these figures only represent the individuals intercepted between ports of entry and exclude those detected at entry ports or those who managed to enter undetected. Reports suggest that over 1.5 million managed to bypass the agents during President Biden’s tenure.
Notably, in the fiscal year 2023, a record was set with 151 individuals from the FBI terror watch list being apprehended at the southern border, an amount surpassing the combined total of the prior six years.
Border Patrol insiders express grave reservations about these entrants from high-risk countries. They highlight the challenges in verifying these individuals, as many of their home countries don’t share criminal databases with the U.S., making it hard to check backgrounds unless they’re already on U.S. watchlists or have committed crimes in the U.S.
Recent statistics depict a rising tide of migrants attempting to enter via the southern border, reaching unprecedented numbers. Some sources reported over 260,000 encounters in just September, setting a new monthly high. The surge in migrants, coupled with potential security threats, has raised alarm, especially among Republicans. They worry that the sheer volume could strain Border Patrol resources and compromise national security.
A recent report from the Department of Homeland Security emphasized the rising encounters with individuals on the watch list and highlighted potential security vulnerabilities. The report stated, “People with links to terrorism aim to leverage established travel pathways and lenient regions to gain entry to the U.S.”
Amid these concerns, the Biden administration took measures last week to fast-track the construction of a border wall in South Texas, indicating a significant need to curb unauthorized entries. Nonetheless, the administration later clarified that the funding for this move was allocated in 2019, and Congress has not agreed to redirect it elsewhere.