Tens of thousands of people designated as ‘special interest aliens‘ have been detained at the U.S. southern border during the past two years, raising fresh worries about the threat of terrorists sneaking into the country.
In all, more than 70,000 migrants have been picked up from countries of particular concern, according to leaked Custom and Border Protection data.
They include 6,386 nationals from Afghanistan, where the Taliban took control in 2021 after a 20-year war, 659 people from Iran, which backs the terrorist group Hamas, and Syria, which is designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.
But the bulk come from NATO ally Turkey and the West African nation of Mauritania, which is battling extremist violence.
The migrants were detained between ports of entry and do not include people who presented themselves at crossing points.
Migrants can be arriving in the Tucson sector of Arizona. The daily number of crossers here can exceed 2000 people, including people from all around the world
Nor is there any way of knowing how many were able to enter the country undetected.
The numbers were obtained by Fox News reporter Bill Melugin.
‘Border Patrol sources tell me they have extreme concerns about who is coming into the country because they have little to no way of vetting people from these special interest countries,’ he said on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter.
‘I’m told unless they have committed a crime previously in the US, or they are on some sort of federal watchlist, there’s no way to know who they are because most of their home countries don’t share data/records with the US so there is nothing to match a name to when BP agents run fingerprints.’
‘Special interest aliens’ are defined by their country of origin, rather than accusations of intelligence about particular individuals.
The term is used by federal agencies to refer to people coming from countries that have conditions that favor or harbor terrorism, or pose a potential national security threat.
The result is a conundrum for U.S. authorities. Countries that are home to violent terrorist movements are also the countries with a population desperate to flee to safety.
People arriving at the U.S. border included 13,624 people from the central Asian of Uzbekistan, which shares a frontier with Afghanistan, and which has supplied foreign fighters for other militant groups.
The numbers underline how numbers have surged in general at the southern border.
Fox News reporter Bill Melugin obtained the data from Border Patrol sources
A surge in arrivals has caused New York to say that it is full, directing migrants to go elsewhere. This file photograph shows people waiting outside the Roosevelt hotel for beds
Preliminary data last month recorded an estimated 210,000 apprehensions – the third highest number on record.
September’s tally is the highest since December 2022 when 222,000 migrants were apprehended, the second-highest monthly figure on record.
The 2023 fiscal year, which concludes at the end of September, saw two million illegal migrants intercepted crossing the border, according to data seen by CBS News. That is the second highest annual figure on record.
In the meantime, the Biden administration has reversed course on one of its main commitments.
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security said it was waiving 26 federal laws to start building new sections Donald Trump’s border wall.
The Biden White House has consistently slammed Trump’s tough migration policy and cancelled wall construction when President Joe Biden took office.
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