In Fiscal Year 2023, US border authorities intercepted over 170 foreign individuals listed on the FBI’s terrorism watch list. However, there is limited public knowledge regarding the results of these encounters. Expressing dissatisfaction with the dearth of information about these individuals, Senator Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas, presented a bill on Wednesday.
This proposed legislation aims to mandate the Department of Homeland Security to regularly inform Congress about any interactions with individuals from the watch list during the 12-month period ending on September 30.
The appropriately titled “Where Are the Terrorists Now Act” would necessitate that the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the Director of National Intelligence furnish Congress with reports detailing these incidents. These reports would encompass the latest counts of individuals with entries in the FBI’s “Terrorist Screening Data Set,” the official designation for the watch list, who are apprehended at the border.
Furthermore, this legislation would mandate the provision of an explanation for the inclusion of each individual on the list, information about any affiliations the person may have with a terrorist organization, their nation of origin, and their prior criminal history. Additionally, it would necessitate an account of the circumstances that led each person to arrive at the specific port of entry where they were intercepted.
The proposed legislation would also make it necessary for these officials to disclose the details regarding whether, where, and the duration of detention for each migrant on the terrorist watch list. In cases where such individuals were released within the country, the Department of Homeland Security would be obligated to elucidate the rationale behind that decision and provide information about their current locations. These reports would be obligatory on a monthly basis during the initial year of the measure’s implementation and semi-annually thereafter.
During the period from October 1, 2022, to September 30, 2023, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection documented 172 instances of interactions with foreign nationals on the FBI’s watch list who were trying to enter the United States. Nearly all of these incidents took place at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the fiscal year of 2022, border agents, as reported by the Department of Homeland Security, had 98 instances of interactions with individuals listed on the FBI’s terrorist watch list. This figure also extended a concerning pattern of an increasing number of potential terrorists during President Biden’s administration. This trend began in the fiscal year 2021, with approximately 16 encounters.
By way of comparison, the data from DHS reveals that during the four years of former President Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House, there were only 14 encounters with migrants on the terrorist watch list.
This increase corresponds with the surge in the volume of migrants trying to unlawfully enter the United States under the Biden administration. Since the fiscal year of 2021, agents have intercepted over 5.9 million migrants attempting to cross into the country. In contrast, during the period spanning fiscal years 2017 to 2020, just over 1.028 million individuals were apprehended at the borders.