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Chaos at the border and no end in sight

In fiscal year 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended 169 individuals at the Southern border who matched listings on the terrorism watchlist. This figure marks a significant increase from previous years, representing a tenfold rise from fiscal year 2021 and exceeding the combined total of such apprehensions from the previous six years​. Since fiscal year 2021, there have been 282 individuals encountered on the terrorist watchlist at the Southwest border, with the 169 in FY 2023 alone constituting a large portion of that total​​.

For additional context, the figures for the prior fiscal years were notably lower, with 98 individuals on the watchlist apprehended in FY 2022, 15 in FY 2021, 3 in FY 2020, none in FY 2019, 6 in FY 2018, and 2 in FY 2017​. This data highlights a substantial increase in apprehensions of individuals on the terrorism watchlist attempting to cross the U.S. border illegally.

In addition to these concerning apprehensions, the seizure of currency at nationwide checkpoints by the U.S. Border Patrol has seen an immense total of $1,900,844 in FY 2023 to date. This is indicative of the illicit financial undertakings that may be tied to broader criminal enterprises attempting to exploit our borders​.

The drug seizures reported also paint a dire picture, with thousands of pounds of narcotics including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl being intercepted by border patrol in FY 2023. The total weight of these drugs amounts to substantial figures, with fentanyl—a drug with lethal potential even in small amounts—seeing 981 pounds seized​​.

Gang affiliations among those apprehended remain a significant concern, with members of notorious gangs such as MS-13, 18th Street, and Surenos (SUR-13), among others, being encountered by U.S. Border Patrol in FY 2023. The presence of gang members crossing the border is a direct challenge to the safety and security of American communities​​.

Migrants await to be processed at gate 36 the border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas. Omar Ornelas/El Paso Times via USA Today Network

These statistics serve as a call for the urgent need to secure our borders. The data reflects not just numbers, but potential threats that could have serious implications for the safety of American citizens. As we consider the steps forward, it is imperative to address these vulnerabilities with robust border security measures, including physical barriers, advanced technology, and increased manpower to safeguard our nation. The goal is clear: a border that is secure, a homeland that is safe, and a future where the rule of law is upheld, ensuring the prosperity and security of all Americans.

It is critical to recognize that events with international ramifications, such as the Israel-Hamas conflict, can indirectly affect U.S. border security. The increase in apprehensions of individuals on terrorism watchlists at the U.S. border, as noted earlier, underscores the persistent need for rigorous security measures to identify and prevent the entry of individuals who pose a threat to national security. These facts are not merely statistics but highlight the real and present dangers of terrorists and criminals attempting to exploit vulnerabilities at borders.


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