Surge in Terror Watchlist Encounters Raises Concerns
In fiscal year 2023, the number of terror watchlist encounters by Border Patrol agents between ports of entry at the southern border reached a record-breaking 169. This number not only exceeded the previous fiscal year’s total of 98 but also surpassed the combined total of the last six fiscal years. The numbers at the ports themselves are even higher, with 49 encounters reported so far this fiscal year.
The increase in terror watchlist encounters has raised concerns among officials, considering that individuals with dangerous criminal histories or affiliations to terrorism may attempt to enter the U.S. either as part of migrant groups or by evading Border Patrol. This is particularly alarming given the recent Hamas terror attack on Israel.
Border Security Threat Assessment Warns of Potential Exploitation
A border security threat assessment published in October highlighted the growing number of encounters with individuals on the watchlist. The report warned that terrorists and criminal actors may exploit the current flow of migrants and the increasingly complex security environment to gain access to the United States. It emphasized that individuals with terrorism connections are interested in utilizing established travel routes and permissive environments to facilitate their entry into the country.
Record-Breaking Numbers Amidst Overwhelmed Border Patrol
These terror watchlist encounters are just a fraction of the more than 242,000 migrants encountered at the southern border, marking the highest November on record and the third-highest month overall. Border Patrol agents have been overwhelmed by a surge of migrants from various parts of the world, with daily encounters exceeding 10,000.
Monday witnessed a record-breaking 12,600 encounters, the highest ever recorded in a single day. December is expected to surpass November’s numbers, with over 200,000 encounters already reported. The situation has become increasingly challenging in places like Lukeville, Arizona, and Eagle Pass, Texas.
Debates Over Border Security Measures and Asylum Limits
As the border crisis continues to escalate, discussions surrounding border security measures and asylum limits are taking place in Washington. Lawmakers are seeking to find common ground on the White House’s supplemental funding request, which includes $14 billion for border funding.
Republicans are pushing for stricter asylum limits and restrictions on the use of humanitarian parole. Although some lawmakers remain optimistic about reaching an agreement, it is unlikely to happen before January at the earliest.
Contributor: Fox News’ Bill Melugin