The number of people encountered by Border Patrol agents at the southern border between ports of entry is on track to exceed the record number encountered last year, according to new data released by Customs and Border Protection ( CBP) this week.
Agents arrested 16 people on the FBI’s terror watch list who illegally crossed the southern border in February. This brings the total number of meetings for the 2023 financial year to 69, which is on track to exceed the 98 meetings of the previous financial year.
There were only eight arrests on the terror watch list between ports of entry between fiscal years 2017 and 2020, followed by 15 encounters in 2021.
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At the northern and southern border ports of entry, CBP’s Office of Field Operations has encountered 214 individuals on the Terrorism Screening Database (TSDB) so far this exercise. In fiscal year 2022, there were 380 arrests, significantly more than the 157 in fiscal year 2021 and the 196 in fiscal year 2020.
The number of people encountered on the TSDB is only a small number compared to the total number of migrants, which was more than 150,000 in February. But the increase has fueled fears about who may attempt to enter the United States.
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Republicans in particular noted the TSDB numbers as a sign that the border needs to be made more secure, and they called on the Biden administration to take more action to do so.
The numbers were released just hours after Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz testified at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in McAllen, Texas, telling lawmakers that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not have operational control of the border.
The White House has pushed back against Republican criticism, accusing them of not approving the Biden administration’s border funding requests, including a recent request for $5 billion in December. Republicans have said politics, not funding, is the cause of the crisis.
DHS said the hearing “highlights the vital work the Department of Homeland Security does every day to enforce our laws, secure our border, and combat cartels and smugglers” and highlighted the work it accomplishes to make America safer.
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“Despite the legacy of a dismantled immigration system and in the face of unprecedented migration affecting nations in the Western Hemisphere, this administration has increased resources at the border, reducing the number of cross-border encounters. entry, disrupting more smuggling operations than ever before and interdicting more drugs in the past two years than were stopped in the previous five years,” a spokesperson said.
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