It appears as though Customs and Border Patrol is running into more people of concern this year than in years prior.
According to the most recent data set, which was unveiled by CBP on Saturday, a record 736 terrorist suspects were stopped at the U.S. border this fiscal year. The southwest border was host to 249 of these individuals, while CBP noted 487 instances of terror encounters at the northern border.
These numbers account for watch-listed persons encountered at ports of entry as well as those encountered between ports of entry.
Overall, CBP says that these individuals make up for about 0.0083% of the total border patrol encounters reported. While that feels like a small number, there are a couple of items to consider.
First, this is the highest comparative percentage of watch-listed individuals on the overall border encounters reported by CBP in its history. As Border Patrol says in its data presentation, such encounters “are very uncommon,” making this all the more concerning.
And second, this number of encounters does not include “gotaways,” which are those who have illegally entered the U.S. and evaded capture by Border Patrol agents. The Center Square reports that there at least 1.7 million gotaways have been recorded in the U.S. since January 2021. The true number, however, is likely much higher.
According to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Chief Tom Homan, the unknown factor of these gotaways mixed with increased encounters of watch-listed individuals “makes this a huge national security issue.”
It’s a concern shared by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the next Speaker should make the border a primary focus.
The Biden administration continues to amend its border policies in a way that has thus far failed to properly address the situation. Most recently, the Department of Homeland Security proposed rule changes for foreign nationals who could apply for an H-1B visa.
This specialty visa allows temporary employment for foreign nationals in specialty occupations, notably fields in the tech industry. Critics of the program, mostly Republicans, have said it undercuts wages for all workers.
Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy likened the program to “a form of indentured servitude,” vowing to “gut” it if elected.