Southern border agents arrested sixteen people on the FBI’s terror watchlist last month as border arrests are set to outpace record numbers encountered in the last year.
It brings the total number of encounters for the 2023 fiscal year to 69, which is on the trajectory to exceeding the 98 encounters made in the year prior.
It comes as Republicans demand answers for why the Biden administration is spending millions to store unused border wall panels as the country is inundated with illegal migrants risking their lives to cross onto American soil, and enough drugs to kill five times the population of the U.S. flood in.
Only eight terror watch-list arrests between ports of entry were made between 2017 and 2020, followed by 15 encounters in 2021.
Southern border agents arrested sixteen people on the FBI’s terror watchlist last month as border arrests are set to outpace record numbers encountered in the last year – begging the question who is coming over the border – as thousands were seen storming barricades in Paso del Norte last weekend
It comes as Republicans demand answers for why the Biden administration is spending millions to store unused border wall panels
But another crisis is also on the doorstep of the U.S. with overdose rates skyrocketing, as fentanyl floods across the border, and Mexico’s president shirks the blame
CBP’s Officer of Field Operations have encountered 214 people on the Terrorist Screening Database (TSBD) so far across ports of entry at the northern and southern borders.
In 2022 there were 380 apprehensions, which rocketed from the 157 in 2021 and 196 in 2020.
Those encountered on the TSDB are only a fraction of the overall number of migrants – more than 150,000 in February – and has sparked fear about who might be trying to enter the U.S.
The numbers have become key in Republican arguments that the border needs to be better secured and calls for greater action are trumpeted.
The numbers were released just hours after Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz testified to a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in McAllen, Texas, telling lawmakers that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not have operational control of the border.
The White House pushed back against Republican criticism, accusing them of not approving border funding requests by the Biden administration, including a recent $5 billion request in December.
Republicans said it’s policy, not funding, that is the cause of the increasing and persistent crisis.
Meanwhile, $130,000 per day is being put towards storing and maintaining unused border wall panels in the south rather than ‘fortifying the border with those materials.’
Republican members of the Senate Armed Forces Committee using details provided to them in a request for information to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) sent a letter to the Defense Department questioning the decision to sit on these materials.
Hundreds of migrants mostly from Venezuela were seen trying to rush the border but were unsuccessful in gaining entry into the U.S.
Led by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and signed by Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, along with nearly every other Republican on the committee, the senators wrote that they ‘are disturbed to learn the Department of Defense is paying private landowners to store border wall materials.’
‘At present, over 20,000 border wall sections, otherwise known as bollard panels, lie unused at 20 project sites across southern Arizona and New Mexico,’ the senators said in the letter, according to Fox News.
‘Every day, the Department of Defense pays $130,000 to store, maintain, and secure these materials. Since you were sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs a year ago, you have allowed the Department to pay over $47 million to store these panels.
‘The Department of Defense should not be incurring these daily charges but should be using these funds to bolster national security.
Texas Republican State Rep. Matt Schaefer (pictured) introduced a bill that would create a Border Protection Unit
‘This failing program clearly misses that standard.’
In its correspondence with the committee, the USACE confirmed the cancelation of the border wall contracts by Biden in 2021 ‘left a variety of excess materials’ and the ‘total costs to store, maintain, and secure all the materials across all sites is estimated to be approximately $130,000 per day.’
‘Some of these materials, to include security cameras, overhead lights, and electrical and storm water materials are being disposed of in accordance with federal excess material disposal laws and regulations,’ the USACE stated.
‘Overall, 61 percent of non-bollard panel materials, and 4 percent of bollard panel materials have been transferred to other government agencies or disposed of through the DLA disposition process.
‘The total value of these materials is estimated at approximately $300 million. However, the cost to the government cannot be finalized until audits are completed and negotiations with contractors are concluded.’
State lawmakers in Texas have also started to push legislation to help quell the southern border crisis after a group of more than 1,000 migrants rushed a port of entry in El Paso.
Republicans in the Texas State legislature proposed a new law that would make it a state felony to illegally cross the border from Mexico in an effort to take back control of the border as they claim the federal government continues to ignore the crisis.
The law would also establish a ‘Border Protection Unit’, which would be a group of officers dedicated to arresting migrants who enter Texas at points of the border that are not an official port of entry.
GOP lawmakers in Washington are placing the blame squarely on President Joe Biden’s new policies at the border for a massive group of migrants unsuccessfully trying to rush the El Paso, Texas port of entry – instead clashing with Mexican military and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
A group of ‘at least 1,000’ migrants clashed with Mexican military and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers as they rushed a checkpoint between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico on Sunday trying to illegally enter the U.S.
Hundreds of migrants stormed the Paso del Norte, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in the hopes of crossing into El Paso on March 12
Texas Republican State Representative Matt Schaefer introduced the bill that is hoped to embolden officers with the newly formed Border Protection Unit to ‘arrest, detain, and deter individuals crossing the border illegally including with the use of non-deadly force.’
Those officers would receive immunity from liability for authorized actions.
The bill also details that people arrested for crossing into Texas illegally could face 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines for each individual violation.
Separately, Texas GOP State Senator Brian Birdwell introduced a bill to make it a crime in the state for people to bypass legal immigration channels and proceedings.
The law would put people in jail for one to two years for their second violation entering the U.S. illegally. They could also receive a lifetime behind bars if they were previously convicted of a felony.
Texas has a Republican controlled legislature and governor, meaning it’s likely these laws will pass the House and Senate and go to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk for signature.
Lawmakers in D.C. and the court system in Florida are moving forward with attempting to put an end to Biden’s new parole program, which allows migrants to be swiftly released from Border Patrol custody into the U.S.
Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said that Congress is looking at overruling the administration when it comes to the border and immigration law.
‘I think part of the president’s policies are attracting more illegal immigration and what the Border Patrol calls pull factors – in other words the perception that there are no consequences associated with coming here outside of legal immigration channels,’ Cornyn told Fox and Friends on Monday morning.
Mexican National Guardsman stand guard on the Paso del Norte International Bridge after it was closed by Mexican and US authorities on March 12
The Paso del Norte International Bridge was blocked by Mexican and US authorities after migrants assembled and forced their way onto the bridge
The new policies from the administration announced earlier this year allows 30,000 migrants each month into the U.S. from Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. But critics claim that the policies have only led to an exacerbation of the southern border crisis.
‘I think the president will try to go it alone,’ Cornyn said of the president’s policy stance toward the border, claiming that he has refused to work with Congress on the issue.
‘We’re going to introduce the Congressional Review Act, which is a way Congress can overrule that administrative rule because I believe it will do nothing to make things worse but not better.’
Cornyn said that the rush of 1,000 migrants trying to illegally enter the country ‘is exactly what president Biden’s open border policies are inviting.’
Heavily-armed Mexican military and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers were manning the El Paso border on Sunday evening after the massive group of migrants unsuccessfully tried to rush a checkpoint between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.
Video shared by Fox News reporter Bill Melugin showed the ‘bilateral show of force’ on the border, which included armed security forces in riot gear, barbed wire, concrete blocks and mesh fencing on the Paso Del Norte Bridge.
It was shared hours after different footage showed hordes of migrants charging past a line of Mexican officials at the southern border.
Photos captured the moment the group reached the center of the bridge, where they were then blocked by CBP officers, tear gas and barricades.
‘Unbelievable, honestly, to see this kind of video. Our border is not secure,’ Rep. Nancy Mace lamented in a Monday interview with Fox and Friends First.
‘Secretary Mayorkas is like a firefighter running away from a fire,’ she said of the Homeland Security secretary. ‘He ought to be impeached from this and this lawlessness – unbelievable.’
‘We are not following our laws,’ the South Carolina Republican continued. ‘We allow them to come here illegally and stay here illegally without consequence. You are seeing the results of that.’
Bill Melugin of Fox News tweeted a video from El Paso showing Mexican military (pictured) facing south on one side of the border and CBP officials on the other
The group reached the hump of the bridge, where Customs and Protection elements prevented their passage with barricades of wires and tear gas
‘Deal with the problem at the border then. Your experiment failed. You don’t want them in your community,’ she said.
Cornyn said the bigger problem is that Biden refuses to work with Congress on the issue and tries to take it on just at the administrative level, which has so far not been successful in addressing the prevailing crisis at all.
‘This is part of the plan and president Biden is not prepared,’ Cornyn said.
‘Unfortunately he insists on not working with Congress to solve that problem. I’m ready and able to work with him but it seems like he wants to go at it alone. So far, it’s not working.’
Meanwhile, a Florida federal judge has ordered the Biden administration to end the expedited migrant release.
CBP officers said they ‘implemented port hardening measures,’ including the use of the fencing and concrete barricades, temporarily preventing northbound traffic at the bridge.
Officials said the large group approached the international line ‘posing a threat to make mass entry.’
Footage showed the group, which consisted mostly of young men but also included women and young children, charging along the border road.
The clips also show them pushing past the Mexican side of Paso Del Norte bridge forcing CBP to erect barricades of barbed wire and other physical barriers to prevent any crossings.
The decrease in border crossings followed Biden’s announcement in early January that Mexico would take back Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans under a pandemic-era rule that denies migrants the right to seek asylum as part of an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
At the same time, the U.S. agreed to admit up to 30,000 a month of those four nationalities on humanitarian parole if they apply online, enter at an airport and find a financial sponsor.
The administration has also proposed generally denying asylum to anyone who travels through another country on their way to the U.S. without seeking protection there – effectively all non-Mexicans who appear at the U.S. southern border.
Agents detained migrants more than 2.5 million times at the southern border in 2022, including more than 250,000 in December, the highest on record.
According to a U.S. official who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Border Patrol agents stopped migrants about 130,000 times in February, similar to January.
More than 100,000 migrants each month were being released in U.S. border cities late last year with notices to appear in immigration court or report to immigration authorities.
But another crisis is also on the doorstep of the U.S. with overdose rates skyrocketing, as fentanyl floods across the border Mexico’s president shirking the blame.
San Diego cops seized 232lbs of fentanyl worth more than $3 million – enough to kill 50 million Americans
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection , the vast majority of fentanyl goes into the U.S. through legal ports of entry, in vehicles
Glimpses into the manufacturing of these deadly products have surfaced over the years but the full gravity and number of secret labs operating in the region remain a mystery as cartels wage a war on those who try to stop or interrupt their syndicates.
The secret location of labs littered across Mexico has made it increasingly difficult to control the scourge on society and the flood of deadly substances into America.
Cooks working for violent cartel bosses have revealed over the years that the production of illicit substances has evolved over time and can be found anywhere from rural properties, people’s homes and even one ill-fated piñata store.
Mexico’s largest drug bust to-date showed Mexican military storming what appeared to be a small rural property in Culiacan, the capital of the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa last month.
The make-shift drug labs are easy to set up and move around in stealth but do require a certain amount of planning.
But Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has washed his hands of the growing fentanyl crisis in America, claiming that his country does not produce or consume the fatal drug despite evidence to the contrary.
‘Here, we do not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl,’ López Obrador said.
‘Why don’t they [the United States] take care of their problem of social decay?’
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the vast majority of fentanyl goes into the U.S. through legal ports of entry, in vehicles.
Nobody knows how much fentanyl in both gel and pill form is successfully crossing the Southern border, however and seizure rates remain low.
The opioid being cut with virtually every street drug in the country killed a record 75,000 Americans in 2021 in the latest numbers, the equivalent of 1,500 lives lost weekly.