Border security concerns rise along with terrorist encounters

by Trinity Cardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM NEWS

Over 20 individuals on the terror watchlist were apprehended at the southern U.S. border in 2021, according to a Fox News exclusive report.

Fox News obtained the information through a Freedom of Information Act request submitted in December after former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott told Fox News in October, “We have terrorist threats we can’t get into in this type of a forum but they are real.”

The Customs and Border Protection information provided indicated that there were at least 23 Terrorist Screen Database (TSDB) encounters on the Southern border between Jan. 20 and Dec. 27, 2021. Individuals on this list are either known or “reasonably suspected” of engaging in terrorist activities.

According to the report, 4 of these encounters occurred in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, 4 in the Del Rio Sector, 3 in the El Paso Sector, 2 in the Tucson Sector, 2 in the Yuma Sector, 4 in the El Centro Sector, and 4 in the San Diego Sector.

This information amplifies Republican lawmakers’ concerns over weak border patrol policies. On March 22, Representatives James Comer and John Katko requested that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas turn over documents revealing the number of TSDB individuals apprehended annually beginning in the fiscal year 2016 and including present numbers for the current fiscal year.

“Former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott stated, prior to his departure, the Border Patrol was encountering ‘TSDBs at a level we have never seen before. That’s a real threat,'” the respective ranking members of the Oversight and Homeland Security committees wrote.

Yet the Biden Administration has refused to publicly reveal these numbers, instead marking them as “law enforcement sensitive.” This means that the true number of TSDB encounters could be much higher than what was revealed in the Fox News report due to an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act.

In addition to the number of TSDB apprehensions, the representatives also requested country-of-origin data and justification for the use of designations that prevented a public release of data, and an estimate of how many illegal aliens had evaded border patrol.

March set a two-decade record for the greatest number of migrant arrests in a month after 210,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended by border patrol. The border crisis is anticipated to worsen after Title 42, which allowed immigration officials to turn away asylum-seekers at the border due to the Covid-19 pandemic, expires on May 23.

As border patrol staff are overwhelmed by surging migrant numbers, it will become even more difficult for them to recognize and pursue TSDBs at the border. In March, a separate Fox News report revealed there were 62,000 “got-aways,” or individuals who evaded border patrol apprehension. It’s another troubling number to those concerned about our border security.

Comer and Katko contend that “The American people deserve to know whether President Biden’s weak border policies are allowing terrorists to enter our homeland.”