CBP Data Show Number of Terrorists Encountered at Our Borders
For months, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have requested the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) release the number of migrants encountered at the southern and northern borders whose names were registered in the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). The TSDB is a watchlist that documents domestic and foreign individuals who are known terrorists or reasonably suspected to have ties to terrorism.
Recently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) added a new section on its website detailing the number of TSDB encounters at both land borders in the past few years. On top of documenting the number of known or suspected terrorists (KSTs), CBP also includes foreign nationals who pose a potential security threat to the U.S., including members of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and known affiliates of KSTs who are registered in the TSDB.
This new data section comes at an important time as our borders are encountering record numbers of illegal aliens, including criminals and gang members. Until recently, the Biden administration has refused to disclose this vital national security information.
The data show CBP officials encountered the following counts of aliens with a TSDB designation in FY 2022 (October 1, 2021 - present):
- Southern border: 62
- Northern border: 96
- Total TSDB encounters: 158
Based on the current rate of KST encounters, the U.S. is on track to surpass FY 2021’s total of 173 encounters. The law enforcement efforts of border authorities should be lauded, as these national security threats were detained before entering the country and possibly wreaking havoc. But for every KST or TCO member with terror ties that were identified, how many were able to avoid detection and successfully infiltrate the U.S.?
Interestingly, the northern border has had 34 more TSDB encounters than the southern border. While the apprehensions of illegal border crossers, illicit narcotics, and other categories are typically higher at the Southwest border, migrants with security concerns seem to be taking more advantage of the northern frontier.
Last August, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting the number of migrants arrested at the southern border who were KSTs since President Joe Biden took office. After eight months, the DHS responded to the Texas Republican’s request, revealing that 42 migrants on the terror watchlist had been encountered between January 20, 2021, and December 31, 2021.
When asked about the status of the 42 individuals during a House Judiciary Committee hearing last month, Secretary Mayorkas did not know if these migrants with ties to terror groups were in a detention facility, had been deported, or were released into the U.S.
With that startling admission, does the DHS secretary know the whereabouts of the hundreds of other TSDB designated migrants encountered on his watch?
Every presidential administration should prioritize national security. Strengthening our border security is necessary to achieve that goal. With our borders undoubtedly vulnerable to nefarious individuals, the Biden administration should be working around the clock to secure the country’s entry points before terrorists can sneak into the U.S. and cause irreparable damage in the interior.