According to US Customs and Border Patrol data published earlier this week, CBP agents apprehended 98 illegal immigrants so far at the US southern border with names matching those on the Terror Screening Dataset, a government watchlist of people believed to be involved with or affiliated with known terrorist groups or suspected terrorists.
Although this number seems insignificant considering the fact that it represents just .0044% of the record 2.4 million migrants who entered the US illegally in 2022, it is a massive jump from last year, when only 15 migrants arriving through Mexico were found to be on the list and a significant increase compared to 2019, when none of the migrants apprehended at the southern border were on the list.
Since then, the numbers have grown exponentially.
According to internal CBP data obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation earlier this month, the number of illegal migrants labeled as “special interest migrants” for potential national security risks increased by nearly 600% in the fiscal year 2022 to 25,627.
The designation means that these individuals had a history of traveling through areas deemed national security concerns by the US Department of Homeland Security for reasons of terrorism or other unspecified nefarious activity.
Most of them were encountered by CBP patrols at the Mexican border and 60% of them were from Turkey where, according to the State Department, Islamic State and other foreign terrorist organizations are known to operate.
Citing former Border Patrol chief Rodney Scott, the outlet adds that unless CBP can find negative information about them, the ‘special interest’ migrants are usually released into the country like any others.
With over 12,000 arrested in 2022, the number of criminal non-citizens encountered by CBP has also exploded in recent years with the figure more than quadrupling between 2020 and 2021, following the Biden administration’s shift toward a more permissive border policy.