FBI Director Says Agency Is Worried About Terrorists Crossing Border Illegally

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
November 15, 2023Border Security
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In the wake of heightened international security threats, resulting from the Israel-Hamas war. U.S. officials are warning of terrorists coming through our southern border. Joining us now is Epoch Times reporter John Fredricks who will tell us about where illegal border crossers are coming from.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday that illegal immigrants who were not apprehended by border officials are a source of “great concern” for the bureau.

During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Mr. Wray was asked about whether the FBI can “guarantee the American people that known or suspected terrorists, including any from Hamas or other terror groups, are not amongst those gotaways.”

In response, the director said, “Certainly the group of people that you’re talking about are a source of great concern for us. That’s why we’re aggressively using all 56 of our joint terrorism task forces.”

Mr. Wray added that “any time you have a group of people in the United States that we don’t know nearly enough about,” it is “a source of concern for us from a perspective in our lane of protecting Americans.”

The FBI chief also testified that there has been a rise in the number of suspected terrorists trying to cross the southern border over the past five years, although that figure reached record levels in the 2023 fiscal year. He noted that those threats are “very much consuming” all the FBI’s field offices across the United States, not only in border states.

When asked about why there has been a surge in terror watchlist individuals trying to cross into the United States, Mr. Wray responded by saying that he “can’t really speak to that issue. It’s not in my lane.”

Latest Immigration Statistics

On Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released monthly figures for October 2023, showing that the agency recorded about 240,000 encounters with illegal immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border, a decrease of about 11 percent from September’s figures. Republicans have said that under the Biden administration, border security is lax and has led to a surge in illegal immigration.

According to a recent news release from the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee, at least 2.5 million illegal immigrants had “no confirmed departure from the United States” after entering between Jan. 20, 2021, and March 31, 2023, or roughly coinciding with President Joe Biden’s first two years in office.

U.S. officials highlighted the resumption of deportation flights to Venezuela that started Oct. 18, shortly after Venezuelans replaced Mexicans as the largest nationality appearing at the border. Arrests of Venezuelans plummeted 45 percent to 29,637 from 54,833, still second only to Mexicans. Arrests of Venezuelans fell even more, by 74 percent, in the second half of October from the same period of September.

Arrests for illegal crossings totaled 188,778 for all nationalities in October, down from 218,763 in September, which was the second-highest month on record. Arrests had more than doubled over the previous three months as illegal migrants and smugglers adjusted to new asylum regulations introduced in May.

Arrests of Chinese nationals rose slightly to 4,247, with 99 percent of them in the San Diego area, as more fly to Ecuador and make their way to the U.S. border.

More than 44,000 people entered from Mexico with appointments on the CBP One mobile app, bringing the total number of scheduled appointments on the app to 324,000 since it was introduced in January. Additionally, nearly 270,000 individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela have entered the country by applying online with a financial sponsor and arriving at an airport.

Other Warnings

Since the Hamas terror attack in Israel on Oct. 7, the FBI has seen an increase of calls for attacks against the United States from a number of designated terrorist groups, Mr. Wray testified Wednesday.

“Given those calls for action, our most immediate concern is that individuals or small groups will draw inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home,” he said. “We are keeping a close eye on what impact we have on those terrorist groups intentions here in the United States and how those tensions might evolve.”

Federal law enforcement agents have launched “multiple investigations into individuals affiliated” with Hamas in recent days, Mr. Wray testified.

Mexico-us-migration-caravan
Migrants take part in a caravan towards the border with the United States in Tapachula, Chiapas State, Mexico, on Oct. 31, 2023. (Isaac Guzman/AFP via Getty Images)

In late October, the FBI director warned lawmakers that Hamas’ rampage in Israel could potentially inspire similar terrorist attacks inside the United States.

“We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate years ago,” Mr. Wray said, using an acronym for the Islamic State terrorist group. “It is a time to be concerned. We are in a dangerous period,” he said. “We shouldn’t stop going out, but we should be vigilant.”

Also Wednesday, he said that law enforcement agents have seized enough fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that has led to a significant increase in overdoses in recent years, to kill about 270 million people. The FBI currently has about 28o investigations into Mexican drug cartel leaders, he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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