Border Patrol agents encountered 16 people who are on the FBI’s terror watch list attempting to enter the U.S. illegally at the southern border between ports of entry in April, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics.
CBP stats show that 16 people — more than all four years of fiscal years 17, 18, 19 and 20 combined — were stopped by Border Patrol agents in the month of April.
It means there have so far been 98 encounters at the southern and northern borders between ports of entry in FY 23 so far. That’s the same as all of FY 22. There were 16 in FY21, 3 in FY 20 and FY19, 6 in FY18 and two in FY12.
The numbers at the ports of entry themselves are much bigger, with 295 in FY23 so far, compared to 380 last fiscal year.
The watch list, officially called the Terrorist Screening Dataset (TSDS) is the government’s database that ‘contains sensitive information on terrorist identities.’
‘The TSDS originated as the consolidated terrorist watchlist to house information on known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) but has evolved over the last decade to include additional individuals who represent a potential threat to the United States, including known affiliates of watchlisted individuals,’ CBP says.
While the number of those encountered is a small percentage of the enormous number of migrants the U.S. encounters each year, the increase in watch list encounters has raised concerns, particularly from Republicans, about the number who are getting past overwhelmed Border Patrol agents.
‘Those 16 individuals are only the ones we know about. Imagine how many have crossed Biden’s open border undetected,’ the Republican House Homeland Security Committee account tweeted.
Fox News reported this week that Border Patrol encountered an Afghan national on the watch list crossing illegally into California.
The migrant crossed the border with a group near Otay Mesa, California, the sources said. Border Patrol agents took the migrants to a processing station, where a fingerprint scan determined the Afghan was a match on the Terrorist Screening Database. The FBI was then notified, confirmed the results, and began an investigation.
The new numbers released on Wednesday also showed there were over 211,401 migrant encounters by CBP in April, down 11% from the 235,785 seen in April 2022 and up 10% from the 191,956 seen in March 2023.
That came before the end of the Title 42 public health order on May 11. The border saw a surge in the days leading up to that order’s expiration to over 10,000 a day, but officials say numbers have decreased by more than 50% since then.