WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) are investigating how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is handling the elevated national security risk presented by an increasing number of aliens with terrorist ties illegally crossing the United States’ southern border. In a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the Committee chairs seek documents and information, including the alien files of those apprehended on the border with terrorist ties.
“According to DHS data, the number of aliens with derogatory information in the TSDB has risen rapidly in recent years. So far in Fiscal Year 2023, U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) has already encountered 96 individuals with derogatory information in the TSDB, in addition to the 98 individuals encountered in Fiscal Year 2022, and 15 encountered in Fiscal Year 2021. These figures compare to only three such aliens apprehended in Fiscal Year 2020, 0 in Fiscal Year 2019, 6 in Fiscal Year 2018, and 2 in Fiscal Year 2017. At the same time, over 1.5 million illegal alien ‘gotaways’ have successfully crossed the border undetected during the Biden-Harris Administration. These ‘known gotaways’ do not provide biometric or biographic information to USBP agents and continue their journey into the interior of the country without background checks against law enforcement databases. Terrorists and other bad actors will attempt to exploit weaknesses in border security and vetting procedures to infiltrate the United States. We fear these known gotaways could also include illegal aliens with terrorist ties,” the Chairmen wrote.
The Oversight Committee, Judiciary Committee, and Committee on Homeland Security are investigating the Biden Administration’s policies that have ignited the worst border crisis in American history. During a February 2023 Oversight Committee hearing, Border Patrol agents testified that criminals are exploiting chaos at the border to overwhelm Border Patrol agents’ resources. U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently revealed that on May 10, 2023, Border Patrol agents arrested an Afghan national on the FBI’s terror watchlist who illegally crossed the southern border. Unprecedented levels of illegal border crossings, incentivized by the Biden Administration’s policies, are increasing the number of gotaways, fueling drug smuggling, and overwhelming the Department of Health and Human Services’ handling of unaccompanied alien children.
“DHS has previously indicated in congressional correspondence that illegal aliens ‘with terrorism related records who are encountered at the border, after entering the country without inspection, are detained and removed.’ However, public facing information on a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website now states that ‘[Terrorist Screening Data Set] watchlisted individuals encountered by [USBP] after entering the country without inspection may be detained and removed, to the extent possible under CBP policy, or turned over to another government agency for subsequent detention or law enforcement action, as appropriate’. It is unclear the extent to which actual legal impediments exist to prevent detention and removal of aliens with terrorist ties, as opposed to impediments imposed by the Biden Administration’s misguided policies,” the Chairmen continued.
The letter to Secretary Mayorkas can be found here.