Thousands of “special interest aliens” from several countries, including the Middle East, have been arrested attempting to cross the southern U.S. border illegally over the past two years by Border Patrol Agents, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data shows. There have also been over 1.5 million “gotaways” under President Joe Biden’s administration.
Special interest aliens are individuals from countries that are identified by the U.S. government as having conditions that protect or promote terrorism or could potentially pose some sort of national security threat to the United States.
The data, which was confirmed by numerous CBP sources and reflects apprehensions between October 2021 and October 2023 between ports of entry, shows that agents encountered 6,386 nationals from Afghanistan during that period, along with 3,153 from Egypt, 659 from Iran, and 538 from Syria.
Border agents also encountered 30,830 from Turkey, 12,624 from Uzbekistan, 1,613 from Pakistan, 185 from Jordan, 164 from Lebanon, 15,594 from Mauritania, and 123 from Iraq. The data doesn’t include information on how many of the migrants were removed and how many were released into the United States with a court date.
The numbers also don’t include encounters by the CBP’s Office of Field Operations at ports of entry. In addition, it doesn’t include the numbers who have snuck across the border without detection. Sources say there have been well over 1.5 million such “gotaways” during Biden’s administration.
In the meantime, FY 2023 broke the record for encounters on the FBI terror watchlist, with 151 people encountered at the southern points of entry, a number higher than the previous six years combined.
Sources with the Border Patrol say they have extreme concerns about the people coming across the border from special interest countries, because they have little to no ways to properly vet them — unless they are on a federal watchlist or have committed a crime in the U.S., agents have no way of knowing their criminal history as there is nothing to match their name with when they run their fingerprints because their countries don’t share data with the United States.
The data comes as the U.S. continues to struggle with a fresh wave of migrants at the southern border, with numbers once again hitting historic highs. Sources say there were over 260,000 September encounters, marking a new monthly record. The GOP, in particular, has raised concerns about the possible security threat of an environment in which Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed, and migrants are being processed in substantial numbers into the interior of the U.S.
DHS threat assessment: CBP agents note increasing numbers at the border are on watch list
The threat assessment by the Department of Homeland Security, published last month, noted agents have encountered an increasing number on the watch list and issued a warning that “terrorists and criminal actors may exploit the elevated flow and increasingly complex security environment to end the United States.”
“Individuals with terrorism connections are interested in using established travel routes and permissive environments to facilitate access to the United States,” said the assessment.
Last week the Biden administration made the move to waive over two dozen federal regulations in order to build border wall in South Texas, citing an “acute and immediate need” in order to prevent unlawful entries. But, the administration has distanced itself since from the move, noting that it was funding appropriated in 2019 and which Congress has refused to divert to other projects.