Mayorkas Ignores Warnings from FBI Director Wray that Danger Has Reached a “Whole Other Level”
Last Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee to testify about the threat of terror facing the United States. The director did not sugarcoat the gravity of the dangers the country faces. “The reality is that the terrorism threat has been elevated throughout 2023, but the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level,” [emphasis added] Wray stated under oath.
The Senate hearing was not the first time Wray has warned about the heightened danger of jihadist groups striking against American interests around the world, or on our homeland. Nor is he the only security expert sounding the alarm. Ten days earlier, the San Diego Field Office Intelligence Division of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) warned that their intelligence indicated that individuals with ties to terror groups could attempt to enter the U.S. across our southern border. The specific groups cited by the San Diego office were Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah – all classified as terror groups by our government.
“San Diego Field Office Intelligence Unit assesses that individuals inspired by, or reacting to the current Israel-Hamas conflict may attempt travel to or from the area of hostilities in the Middle East via circuitous transit across the Southwest border,” the memo stated. “Foreign fighters motivated by ideology or mercenary soldiers of fortune may attempt to obfuscate travel to or from the US to or from countries in the Middle East through Mexico,” the unit added.
One day after Director Wray testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, it was Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ turn to appear before the committee. In contrast to Wray’s sense of urgency and that of the San Diego Intelligence Unit, Mayorkas seemed disturbingly complacent about the threats facing the country.
During questioning by members of the committee, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) asked Sec. Mayorkas, “Approximately how many illegal aliens in this country or here on asylum have direct ties to Hamas, to Hezbollah, to the Islamic Jihad or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran?” As has been typical of Mayorkas, when asked to provide specific information that he should know and be prepared to provide, the secretary was once again maddeningly nonresponsive. “Senator Marshall, let me assure you that individuals that pose a risk to our national security are our highest enforcement priority, the safety and security of the American public,” Mayorkas replied. Follow-up questions were equally futile in eliciting any sort of response that might actually be assuring to members of the committee and the American people.
On the same day that Mayorkas was bobbing, weaving and ducking important questions about how prepared we are to avert a terror attack on the United States at home or abroad, our most implacable foe half way around the world was less circumspect. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted a tweet assuring us and the rest of the world that inflicting damage on the United States and other Western nations is very much part of their plans.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s thinly veiled threats are even more ominous given that Iran seems to have taken a keen interest in nations in our region, particularly those that have been sending large numbers of migrants to the United States over the past few years. In June, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi paid a visit to three Latin American Marxist dictatorships: Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela – not coincidentally three out of the four nations for which the Biden administration had recently established illegal parole programs. (They continue to add others.) Particularly concerning, the Maduro regime in Venezuela has been issuing Venezuelan passports to Syrian and Lebanese nationals since 2017, while the Biden administration’s policy is to honor all Venezuelan passports for the purposes of parole, even those that are expired.
Considering that all of the terror groups cited in the CBP intelligence unit’s warning are financed by, and take marching orders from, Tehran, one might expect decisive action on the part of the Department of Homeland Security, not vague assurances that stopping terrorists is the secretary’s “highest priority.”
These actions might come in the form of sealing our borders against illegal entry and locating people with ties to terror groups who are already here – particularly the 1.7 million ‘gotaways’ who have infiltrated our borders without being encountered since President Biden took office. Unlike the millions of economic migrants who have turned themselves in to CBP upon entering the country because they know they can easily exploit our asylum policies, gotaways often have good reasons to avoid apprehension.
We didn’t need the events of Oct. 7 to understand that open borders and lax immigration policies pose a threat to our national security. But these past few weeks should have driven home the point to President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas that the status quo is perilous and untenable. And yet, the actions of the president and the words of the secretary leave us with little reason to think they will change course.