U.S. Senate Examines Terror Threat Resulting from Open Borders

Last Tuesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) held a hearing entitled, “Threats to the Homeland” where committee members pressed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the disastrous effects of his open-borders policies.

In September, Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 came to a close, marking the highest border encounter numbers on record, with more than 3.2 million aliens apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Under Mayorkas’ three-year tenure, over 7.5 million illegal aliens have been encountered by CBP, and at least 1.7 million known gotaways have evaded our border agents. Secretary Mayorkas confirmed last week that over 600,000 aliens were known gotaways in FY23 alone.

Many committee members raised concerns over the skyrocketing number of suspected terrorists caught crossing the border, and national security threats who may have slipped through the cracks. There was a massive uptick in encounters of aliens on the terrorist watchlist apprehended at the border in 2023, with 564 encountered by the Office of Field Operations (OFO) at our ports of entry and 172 encountered by Border Patrol attempting to illegally enter the country. Border Patrol has seen the largest uptick in encounters with aliens on the terrorist watchlist under Mayorkas. When pressed by Senator Marshall (R-Kan.) on whether any of the aliens granted asylum had ties to hostile terrorist groups, Mayorkas refused to confirm how many of these dangerous individuals had been released.

Senator Johnson (R-Wis.) argued that the increased number of Special Interest Aliens (SIAs) from potentially hostile nations filtering into the country puts American lives at risk and makes the task of protecting the homeland more challenging. While CBP has not released official numbers since 2019, numbers internally reported by CBP have revealed that over 73,000 SIAs were encountered by Border Patrol agents between October 2021 and October 2023. Thousands of these SIAs are from countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Lebanon.

Senators also pressed Mayorkas on the increased amount of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) crossing the borders. Under Mayorkas, in FY22 and FY23 the number of UACs encountered attempting to enter the country soared, reaching more than four times the total from FY20 in each year. During his questioning, Senator Hawley (R-Mo.), expressed concern over a New York Times report revealing that DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have lost track of 85,000 UACs. When asked if DHS’ had begun any operations to recover the missing children, Secretary Mayorkas attempted to shift blame to HHS, and accused the Senator of “conflating issues.”

As detailed by FAIR, Secretary Mayorkas has a long track record of putting an open-borders agenda before the safety of the American people.  That record was on full display last week, and without any meaningful reform to bolster enforcement efforts, the border crisis will continue to exacerbate threats to the homeland.


Kari Jacobson

Government Relations Associate


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EDITORS NOTE: This FAIR column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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