FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed concern about the increasing number of illegal immigrants evading Border Patrol and crossing into the United States, calling it a “source of great concern” for the agency. In a testimony to the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, Wray stated that threats from the other side of the border are consuming the resources of all 56 FBI field offices.
The issue of “gotaways,” or illegal immigrants who successfully evade Border Patrol, has been a growing problem in recent years. According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources, there have been over 600,000 gotaways in the past fiscal year, with over 47,000 since the start of the new fiscal year in October. Chairman Mark Green raised concerns that the number of gotaways since the Biden administration’s start could be well over two million.
Green also asked Wray if the FBI could guarantee that known or suspected terrorists, including those from Hamas or other terror groups, are not among the gotaways. Wray responded by stating that these individuals are a “source of great concern” for the FBI and that they are aggressively using all 56 of their joint terrorism task forces to address this issue.
🚨 WOW: FBI Director Chris Wray admits they have no idea the whereabouts of some of the individuals on the terror watchlist who have ILLEGALLY crossed into the United States.
He should be IMPEACHED for this statement alone — ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE!pic.twitter.com/w57JM7tF47
— Proud Elephant 🇺🇸🦅 (@ProudElephantUS) November 15, 2023
Wray also testified that there has been an increase in the number of known or suspected terrorists attempting to cross the border in the last five years. He could not give a reason for this increase, but he acknowledged that it is a major concern for the agency. “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 said.
This testimony comes as the country continues to grapple with the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and the recent Hamas terror attack on Israel. Chairman Green warned that the United States is at a “heightened risk,” pointing to the “open door policy” at the border as a major factor.
Wray has previously stated that the threat of a terror attack against Americans has been raised to a “whole other level” due to ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. He highlighted the danger posed by homegrown violent extremists who are inspired by foreign terrorist organizations or domestic violent extremists targeting Muslim or Jewish targets.
The CBP has issued a memo warning about potential fighters from terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah seeking entry into the United States. However, the agency has not encountered any such individuals thus far. A spokesperson for CBP stated that the agency works tirelessly to screen, vet, and prevent anyone who poses a threat from entering the country.
QUESTION: “In four years before this, there were only 11 [individuals on the terror watchlist crossing the border] and suddenly there are 294 in the past few years — why?”
FBI Director Chris Wray: “I can’t really speak to that issue. It’s not in my lane.” pic.twitter.com/aCbFR4Z8qX
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) November 15, 2023
In their FY 24 threat assessment, the Department of Homeland Security also highlighted the possibility of terrorists and criminal actors exploiting the current border situation to enter the United States. The agency emphasized that they are implementing stringent screening and vetting measures to prevent any potential threats from entering the country.
Overall, Wray’s testimony and the CBP memo serve as a reminder of the ongoing national security concerns at the border. As the country continues to navigate through immigration policies and issues, it is essential to prioritize the safety and security of American citizens.