Thousands of Chinese nationals have hit the southern border since the beginning of the fiscal year, along with hundreds of Afghans and other nationalities, while there have been thousands of “gotaways” who have evaded Border Patrol – as the U.S. tackles a migrant crisis that is global in scope and has renewed national security concerns.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources told Fox News that since Oct. 1 there were over 6,500 Chinese nationals encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border, along with over 700 Afghans.
There were over 140 encounters from Syria, over 80 from Iran and over 1,500 from Uzbekistan, the sources said.
Meanwhile, for the month of October, there were on average just over 1,000 “gotaways” a day – meaning migrants who evaded Border Patrol apprehension but who were caught on alternative forms of detection.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told lawmakers earlier this month that there had been approximately 600,000 gotaways in FY 23.
There were more than 249,000 migrants encounters in October, and the arrival of migrants not only from countries in the Western Hemisphere but also from China — a top geopolitical foe of the U.S. – as well as “special interest” countries in the Middle East and elsewhere have raised concerns about the potential national security threat that could be arriving in the wake of the terror attack on Israel.
DHS said that it “is and always will work tirelessly to screen, vet, and prevent anyone who poses a threat from entering the country” and says that those screening efforts include biographic and biometric screening.
“Our multilayered border security efforts include various screening and vetting processes that work to detect and prevent individuals who pose national security or public safety risks from entering the United States,” an official said.
On getaways, officials have stressed that apprehension rates have remained roughly the same to the average from the prior administration, and there is greater situational awareness of the border now due to increased technology. At the same time, officials have acknowledged a security risk at the border.
FBI Director Christopher Wray was quizzed on the numbers of gotaways at a House hearing this week and said it was a source of “great concern” to the agency.
“Well, certainly the group of people that you’re talking about are source of great concern for us. That’s why we’re aggressively using all 56 of our joint terrorism task forces,” Wray said.
He later said that “any time you have a group of people in the United States that we don’t know nearly enough about, that is a source of concern for us from a perspective in our lane of protecting Americans.”
He later said “the threats that come from the other side of the border are very much consuming all 56 of our field offices, not just in the border states.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s FY 24 threat assessment warned that agents have encountered a growing number on the watch list and warned that “terrorists and criminal actors may exploit the elevated flow and increasingly complex security environment to enter the United States.”
“Individuals with terrorism connections are interested in using established travel routes and permissive environments to facilitate access to the United States,” the assessment also said.