Lawmakers Demand Mayorkas Come Clean On ISIS Smugglers
News that scores of foreign nationals entered the U.S. with the help of an ISIS-connected smuggling network has triggered a congressional demand for straight answers from Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“The smuggled aliens reportedly arrived at the border, claimed asylum and were released into the country. This seems to directly contradict Secretary Mayorkas’ testimony under oath that all aliens encountered at the border who pose national security threats are detained and removed,” stated the chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security and Enforcement.
Now the FBI is investigating ISIS smuggling activities — attempting to do a job that DHS could not, or would not, do. All that has been disclosed so far is at least one smuggler was based in Turkey and had links to the jihadist Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
The reports of groups of ISIS-shepherded migrants from Uzbekistan, Russia, Georgia, Chechnya and other countries came on the heels of a DHS Inspector General investigation that found the agency had released an illegal alien who was on the Terrorist Watchlist.
Counterterrorism officials told CNN these incidents show how the U.S. is deeply vulnerable to terrorists sneaking across the border amid the unprecedented, ongoing surge of migrants into this country. (Separately, other media outlets reported a “growing trend” of Chinese nationals, some on tourist visas, attempting to enter military bases and other sensitive U.S. sites.)
At the House Judiciary Committee on July 26, Mayorkas testified that aliens encountered at the southern border are screened and vetted by DHS personnel. “Individuals that present a national security or public safety threat are detained and are a priority for removal,” he stated.
Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said the secretary’s assertions “seemed incredible at the time.” They appear even more dubious now. Jordan suggested this week that Mayorkas may have committed perjury in his testimony.
Jordan and subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock, R-Calif., are demanding more and better information from Mayorkas. Specifically, they want details about the ISIS smuggling network, including:
- The exact date Mayorkas became aware that a foreign national with ISIS ties had helped to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States.
- The number of aliens who entered the U.S. via this smuggling network who were released into the country.
- The number of said aliens currently detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and how many are not in ICE custody but remain in the country.
- How many were paroled into the U.S., and through which parole program the aliens were allowed to enter.
As lawmakers await responses to these and a dozen other related queries by a Sept. 19 deadline, one thing is clear: The number of illegal aliens on the Terrorist Watchlist encountered by Border Patrol is spiking, going from just three in the last year of the Trump administration to 16 in Fiscal Year 2021 and 98 in Fiscal Year 2022. How many continue to pass through remains an open question with disturbing implications.