Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified before Congress on Tuesday that some 600,000 immigrants who entered the United States illegally over the past fiscal year were never identified, screened, or vetted.
“That number is over 600,000,” Mr. Mayorkas told Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s annual “Threats to the Homeland” hearing.
“As I’m sure you are well aware, the phenomenon of ‘gotaways’ is something that has been a challenge for the Department of Homeland Security for decades,” Mr. Mayorkas stressed. “In fact, it is a powerful example of a broken immigration system.”
According to data released in September by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), authorities chronicled a record 3.2 million encounters with illegal immigrants nationwide this year (including some 2.48 million on the Southwest border).
According to a report from the House Homeland Security Committee, there have been approximately 7.5 million illegal immigrant encounters nationwide since President Biden took office, of which 6.2 million encounters were at the southwest border.
A total of 1.7 million known ‘gotaways’ have managed to evade U.S. Border Patrol since Jan. 2021.
“How many of these known ‘gotaways’ have convictions in their prior country for rape or murder?” Mr. Marshall asked. “How many of these known ‘gotaways’ have committed crimes in the United States since you were sworn in?”
“How many of these known ‘gotaways’ are trafficking fentanyl?”
“Fentanyl is a scourge that we must all work together to overcome,” Mr. Mayorkas said.
According to the House Homeland Security Committee report, the total CBP fentanyl seizures in Fiscal Year 2023 increased by 88 percent compared to 2022.
Sen. Marshall further inquired about the 169 individuals listed on terrorist watchlists that Border Patrol agents encountered at the U.S.–Mexico border in 2023. “How many were deported, how many are jailed, how many are still in the country?”
Mr. Mayorkas declined to provide any information publicly, saying that he was available to speak about the matter in an “appropriate” setting.
During his opening speech at the hearing, FBI director Chris Wray also warned that the Israel–Hamas war could fuel terrorist threats at home.
“We assessed 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 several years ago,” he said. “In just the past few weeks, multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West.”