Individuals on the terrorist watch list have been encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border amid the massive surge of migrants, GOP members of Congress said during a trip to the border in Texas on Monday.
According to the Congressional Republicans, agents have reported catching people from Yemen, Iran, and Sri Lanka amid growing numbers of migrants from Haiti, Central America, and other countries.
“Individuals that they have on the watch list for terrorism are now starting to exploit the southern border,” Rep. John Katko of New York, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said while spekaing from El Paso, Texas.
“We need to wake up,” he added.
Katko, along with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and several other House Republicans, visited the border to assess the situation and put pressure on the Biden administration to change course.
“It’s more than a crisis. This is a human heartbreak. The sad part about all of this is that it didn’t have to happen,” McCarthy said. “This crisis is created by the presidential policies of this new administration. There’s no other way to claim it than a Biden border crisis.”
Unaccompanied migrant children are crossing the border in record numbers, with an average of 400 per day, The Associated Press reported, straining an already overwhelmed system.
The conditions in the packed facilities are bleak, with Katko noting that “not one of [the migrants] has had a COVID test” in one of the detention facilities, and those individuals are being transferred to other facilities. The Washington Times reported that illegal immigrants tested in Harlingen, Texas showed virus infection rates of 25 percent.
According to McCarthy, one of the processing facilities the Republicans visited has 120 Border Patrol agents working inside, taking them off the front lines and leaving holes in border security.
Additionally, Katko noted that Customs and Border Protection is being forced to shift money to help manage the crisis, even taking cash out of agents’ salaries and pensions. Without immediate action from Congress, Katko said, “I don’t know how we’re even going to pay these guys.”
In February, a group of 11 Iranian nationals was arrested by United States Customs and Border Protection agents after they illegally crossed the border from Mexico into Arizona.
According to a CBP press release, agents encountered five women and six men from Iran traveling in a group on a bridge near San Luis, Ariz., around 6 p.m. After determining the group had crossed the international border unlawfully, U.S. border patrol agents transported them to Yuma Station for processing.
Iran is considered a “special interest” country due to it’s relationship with terrorism, but CBP did not suggest anyone in the group was linked to terrorist activity.