Republican Senators have recently raised concerns regarding the border policies implemented by the Biden administration following discoveries of explosive devices among illegal immigrants. During a press conference on October 31, Senate Republican Conference Chairman, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), brought attention to the unsettling situation, joined by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) after inspecting the U.S.–Mexico border firsthand.
These Senators highlighted a staggering 8 million illegal border crossings that have occurred during President Joe Biden’s tenure. They emphasized the pressing concern of explosives found with some individuals crossing the border, pointing to a heightened risk of potential terrorist activities on American soil.
Sen. Barrasso expressed his apprehensions, stating, “Upon returning from our southern border, it is glaringly evident that the open border policy endorsed by Joe Biden has significantly amplified the threat of a terrorist attack on our nation.”
Days before the conference, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents intercepted illegal immigrants possessing improvised explosive devices, described by Sen. Barrasso as being “tailor-made for terrorism” and comparable in size to cannonballs.
Sen. Ricketts drew attention to the failure of President Biden’s border strategies, noting that 18 individuals on the terrorist watchlist were apprehended illegally entering the U.S. in September, compared to 172 last year. He contextualized the situation, emphasizing, “In previous years, this number was only in single digits. We are inadvertently paving a path for a terrorist attack.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray corroborated the escalating terror threat during his testimony before Congress on October 31. He informed lawmakers of multiple foreign terrorist organizations inciting attacks against Americans and the West in the wake of a Hamas attack on Israeli citizens and soldiers on October 7.
This heightened terror threat has been persistently escalating. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an alert signifying the U.S. being in a “heightened threat environment,” partly due to individuals linked to foreign terrorist organizations potentially targeting educational institutions, government facilities, and critical infrastructure.
In September alone, a record-breaking 269,000 individuals were apprehended crossing the U.S.–Mexico border illegally. Sen. Barrasso underscored the gravity of the situation, stating that the surge in illegal border crossings has compelled Homeland Security to elevate the terror threat level due to the influx of individuals entering the country illegally and the large number of getaways. These individuals evade capture in attempts to remain undetected.
According to the House Committee on Homeland Security, there have been 1.7 million “getaways” since President Biden took office. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged that over 600,000 illegal immigrants escaped capture during the 2023 fiscal year, attributing this long-standing issue to a “broken immigration system.”
However, Sen. Ricketts firmly placed the responsibility on the Biden administration, asserting, “Joe Biden has created this crisis.” He and Sen. Cornyn criticized the administration for being unaware of the identities of the getaways, suggesting that they likely “have a good reason for running away from law enforcement.”
Sen. Ricketts urged the restoration of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, or the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), under which asylum-seekers awaited their U.S. court hearings in Mexico. He argued that reinstating this policy would enforce consequences for illegal entry and curb the influx of migrants.
The White House did not comment on the accusations attributing the border crisis to the president. Responding to the September immigration data, CBP committed to deploying more resources and maintaining vigilance. President Biden has requested an additional $105 billion in funding, with approximately $13.6 billion designated for border protection, including the hiring of 1,300 more border patrol agents and 1,600 new asylum officers.