So far this year, 169 individuals with positive terrorism watchlist matches tried to cross the southern border into the United States. That’s according to U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who says she is alarmed by the statistics.
Capito, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, said the exact affiliations and identities of those 169 individuals apprehended at the southern border remain classified. She said the number of individuals on the U.S. terror watchlist who tried to cross the border so far this year is a “tenfold increase” from the fiscal year 2021 numbers.
Capito, and a group of Republicans lawmakers led by U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., announced Monday that they were sending a letter to President Joe Biden demanding action at the southern border due to the rise in terrorist crossings.
“Our southern border is a matter of deep national concern and insecurity,” Capito and the other Republican lawmakers wrote in the letter to Biden. “With rising violence and economic crises around the world pushing many people towards our borders, the record levels of illegal crossings and the spike in Border Patrol apprehensions of individuals matching the U.S. terror watchlist are alarming.”
Capito has been vocal in recent weeks on the need for Biden to secure the southern border.
Although 169 individuals on the terror watch list have been detained at the border so far this year, if only one terror suspect gets through without apprehension, he or she can cause harm to the country, Capito said.
“Even if these apprehensions represent a minority, the potential devastation from a single individual with malign intentions cannot be overstated,” the Republican senators said in the letter to Biden.
The letter also asks the administration for plans to bolster border and internal security measures following the deadly October 7th terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas.
In the letter, Capito and the Republican lawmakers are demanding answers from Biden on a number of border-related questions, including:
• What proactive moves are underway to bolster the security protocols at the southern border, especially in light of the increased apprehensions related to the U.S. terror watchlist and threats of violence by leaders of U.S.-designated terrorist organizations?
• With the possibility of hundreds of thousands of individuals having already entered the country undetected in the past two years, what measures are being implemented to address the blind spot and to ensure that potential threats are identified and neutralized?
• How are key national security agencies, such as the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency preparing to preemptively detect and counteract threats from designated terrorist organizations?
• Are there plans to conduct a comprehensive review of current security protocols to identify potential loopholes or areas of improvement?
• What steps is the administration taking with its neighbors to enlist their support in sharing information and intelligence against designated terrorist organizations, given mutual security objectives and possible vulnerabilities?
• How is the administration working to track and block financial channels that may support terrorist activities and infiltration at the border and ports of entry?