FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed significant concern on Wednesday regarding the influx of illegal immigrants evading Border Patrol and entering the United States from the southern border, potentially creating opportunities for foreign terrorists to enter American borders.
This issue, he explained, poses a serious challenge to the agency, particularly in terms of threats from across the border. Wray’s testimony to the House Homeland Security Committee highlighted the alarming scale of this problem, with over 600,000 ‘gotaways’ — migrants who have evaded Border Patrol — recorded in FY 23 alone, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources.
Chairman Mark Green of the House Homeland Security Committee raised the issue of these gotaways, suggesting that their numbers since the beginning of the Biden administration could exceed two million. This staggering figure brings into sharp focus the scale of the challenge facing U.S. border security and immigration enforcement.
During the hearing, Green questioned Wray about the potential presence of known or suspected terrorists among these gotaways.
“Can the FBI guarantee American people that known or suspected terrorists, including any from Hamas or other terror groups, are not amongst those gotaways?” he asked.
“Well, certainly the group of people that you’re talking about are source of great concern for us. That’s why we’re aggressively using all 56 of our joint terrorism task forces,” Wray responded.
Wray further elaborated on the issue, noting an increase in the number of known or suspected terrorists attempting to cross the border over the past five years. He highlighted that the number of individuals on the terror watchlist encountered at the border reached record numbers in FY 23. However, he did not specify the reasons behind this increase.
“The threats that come from the other side of the border are very much consuming all 56 of our field offices, not just in the border states,” Wray added.
This testimony comes at a time of heightened concern over the potential for terrorists to exploit the U.S. southern border, especially given the record numbers of migrant encounters. In October alone, there were over 249,000 migrant encounters, following a record-breaking FY 23. The Biden administration has been criticized for its handling of border security, with calls for immigration reform and increased funding to address what is seen as a ‘broken’ immigration system.
The recent Hamas terror attack on Israel has further intensified these concerns. Green, speaking to Fox News Digital, warned of a “heightened risk” to the U.S., attributing it largely to the “open door policy” at the border. Wray, in previous statements to the Senate, had raised the alarm about the heightened terror threat to Americans, citing the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and the risk posed by homegrown violent extremists inspired by foreign terrorist organizations or domestic violent extremists targeting Muslim or Jewish communities.
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