EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans, led by Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, are calling for a briefing by the intelligence community on the national security threats posed by the ‘open’ southern border — just as Republicans in the chamber are looking to zero in on the Biden administration’s handling of the raging migrant crisis.
‘We are concerned with the increasing number of intelligence threats presented by the Biden Administration’s open border policies,’ the more than two dozen Republicans say in the letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.
They say that the policies of the administration have ‘created a southern border that is a beacon for national security and intelligence threats, and it is essential the Intelligence Community upholds its mission to remain focused on counterterrorism.’
Signers on the letter include Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, Daniel Meuser, R-Pa., Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Tom Tiffany, R-Wis., Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
There were more than 2.3 million migrant encounters at the southern border in FY 2022, and nearly 600,000 ‘gotaways’ that evaded overwhelmed Border Patrol agents. The lawmakers also note that 98 non-U.S. citizens apprehended at the border between ports of entry in FY2022 who were on the Terrorist Screening Database as evidence of the threats posed at the border.
The Republicans say it is ‘naive for our leaders to claim our overwhelmed Border Patrol can detect and monitor every individual on our watchlist.’
They also note that 9/11 Commission Report’s conclusion that there was a need for ‘attention to America’s porous borders and the weak enforcement of immigration laws’ and the lawmakers accuse the Biden administration of having ‘continuously downplayed’ the risk that an unsecure border poses.
‘To improve border security operations and ensure the safety of our nation and its people, we request a briefing by the Intelligence Community on all national security and intelligence threats presented by our open border,’ they say.
1.12.23 House Letter to Intelligence Community by Fox News on Scribd
‘Terrorist networks have exploited the border crisis for two years, and the Biden Administration continuously downplays the risk,’ Gooden said in a statement to Fox News Digital. ‘Members of Congress and the American people deserve the full picture of national security threats at our southern border. If this administration cannot control the situation, the next terrorist attack in the United States will be of Joe Biden’s making.’
The Biden administration has repeatedly pushed back on suggestions that the border is not secure. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has claimed that the border is ‘secure’ and ‘we are working to make the border more secure…that has been a historic challenge.’ He has also said the border is ‘closed’ rather than open.
‘Title 42 or not, the border is not open,’ he said last week. ‘We will continue to fully enforce our immigration laws in a safe, orderly, and humane manner. Individuals without a legal basis to remain in the United States will be subject to prompt expulsion under Title 42 or removal under Title 8.’
In November, FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers of ‘significant criminal threats coming from south of the border — whether it’s guns, drugs, money, violence.’
‘We see transnational criminal organizations that are sending their drugs here and that are using street gangs here to distribute it. And that contributes to the violent crime crisis here,’ he said.
The letter comes as House Republicans are looking to scrutinize the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis now they control the House.
Republicans have blamed the Biden administration for the crisis, pointing to the rolling back of Trump-era border security and interior enforcement. The Biden administration has blamed the Trump administration’s closing off of legal asylum pathways, and has sought to expand them, while tackling ‘root causes’ of the crisis like poverty and corruption in Central America.
The administration recently announced greater Title 42 expulsions of multiple nationalities, along with a parole program for nationals from those country — while urging Congress to pass a sweeping immigration reform bill to fix a ‘broken’ system.
Mayorkas recently acknowledged that the migrant numbers were straining the system, but said it could only be fixed with congressional action.
‘There’s no question that the number of encounters that we are experiencing at the border is straining our system,’ he said in an interview.
‘No one disagrees with that. We just can’t seem to agree upon the solution. And a solution is long, long overdue,’