The Biden administration’s border policies have again come under criticism after border officials announced on Saturday a record number of illegal immigrants on the FBI’s terror watchlist were apprehended in the past 12 months.
According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics, 18 people on the federal terrorist watchlist were encountered between ports of entry at the southern border in September, bringing to a total of 169 such encounters in fiscal year 2023 ending on Sept. 30.
The 169 figure is the highest annual number since Border Patrol was founded in 1924. The latest figure also exceeds the previous record of 98 in fiscal year 2022, and 15 in fiscal year 2021.
With illegal immigrants on the FBI terror watchlist apprehended between ports at the northern border included, the total for fiscal year 2023 was 172.
On Oct. 21, some Republicans pointed to the latest CBP statistics and warned about the vulnerability of the United States to a terrorist attack.
“Potential terrorists are attempting to cross our southern border,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The attack on Israel should serve as a warning as to why we must secure the border.”
“Open borders make us less safe and vulnerable to terrorism. We can’t allow terrorists to sneak into our country and do us harm,” Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) wrote on X.
Since Hamas terrorists launched its Oct. 7 attack, more than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel. The Israel-Hamas war has since killed more than 4,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
“Thanks to @CBP data, it’s obvious when an occupant of the Oval Office doesn’t care about the safety of Americans,” Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), who sits on the Homeland Security Committee, wrote in an X post.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) warned the “gotaway” population—illegal immigrants who have evaded capture—poses severe challenges to the United States.
“Over [18,000] known gotaways in the first 16 days of FY24. These are individuals whose identities & purpose we do not know,” Mr. Owens wrote. “That is why you need every Border Patrol agent to be in the field and on patrol.”
Also on Saturday, CBP revealed that 269,735 illegal immigrants had crossed the southern border in September, a record high for a single month. The latest monthly figure brings the total number of encounters for fiscal year 2023 to 2.47 million.
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