Dozens on Terrorist Watchlist Among Record 2.4 Million Migrants Caught in FY 2022
Besides shattering a U.S. record for apprehending nearly 2.4 million illegal immigrants along the Mexican border in fiscal year 2022, Border Patrol agents arrested hundreds of gang members—mostly from the famously violent Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)—and dozens of people on the national terrorist watchlist. Federal agents also confiscated thousands of pounds of drugs, mainly methamphetamine, according to government figures released by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) just days ago. The startling year-end (fiscal years run from October to September) stats depict a chaotic Mexican border region rife with lawlessness that is inevitably seeping north.
It is serious enough that the number of migrants arrested in 2022 increased significantly over 2021, which at the time seemed like a crisis at 1.73 million. The Biden administration’s open border policies inspired a last-minute surge of 227,547 illegal aliens in September alone, the figures show. The overwhelming majority of those caught were single adults with the rest family units and unaccompanied minors. The Del Rio Border Patrol sector in Texas saw the most traffic with 480,930 illegal alien encounters, an increase of 85% over 2021. The Rio Grande Valley sector, also in Texas, came in second with 468,124 encounters. Other busy stations include Yuma in Arizona (310,094), El Paso (307,884) and Tucson (251,984).
As if the record-breaking figures were not disturbing enough, violent gangbangers, terrorists and drugs also crossed the border. The feds arrested 751 gang members compared to 348 in 2021. Nearly half—312—of those apprehended in 2022 belong to the MS-13, a feared street gang of mostly Central American illegal immigrants that has spread throughout the U.S. and is renowned for drug distribution, murder, rape, robbery, home invasions, kidnappings, vandalism and other violent crimes. The Justice Department’s National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) says criminal street gangs like the MS-13 are responsible for the majority of violent crimes in the U.S. and are the primary distributors of most illicit drugs. More than 145 members of Paisas, a prison gang of inmates from Mexico, were also apprehended crossing the border in 2022 and 146 from the 18th Street gang, a Los Angeles-based tribe known for recruiting youths.
In addition to all this, nearly 100 people on the U.S. government’s terrorist watchlist were apprehended at the Mexican border, the year-end figures reveal. That is a huge increase over 2021, when only 16 suspected terrorists were caught. The 98 people busted this year appear on a government database called Terrorist Screening Dataset (TSDS) that contains sensitive information on known or suspected terrorists as well as individuals who represent a potential threat to the U.S., including known affiliates of individuals on the watchlist, according to CBP. The agency claims in the year-end stats that encounters with individuals on the terrorist watchlist at U.S. borders is very “uncommon.” Judicial Watch has long reported on the increasing number of Muslim migrants—including from terrorist nations—entering the U.S. through the Mexican border. This includes a growing population from Bangladesh, a recruiting ground for terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), getting caught by federal agents along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Last year a Bangladeshi man based in Mexico was sentenced to 46 months in prison for operating an “international human smuggling conspiracy” during a period in which the U.S. saw a spike in migrants from terrorist nations entering the country through the famously porous southern border. The smuggler, 41-year-old Mohamad Milon Hossain, lived in Tapachula in the southeast Mexican state of Chiapas bordering Guatemala. The smuggling operation run by Hossain is part of a broader crisis involving a growing demographic of illegal aliens from terrorist nations entering the U.S. through the Mexican border. The government classifies them as Special Interest Aliens (SIA) and they are flowing north via Latin America in huge numbers, thanks to established Transitional Criminal Organizations (TCO) that facilitate travel along drug and migrant smuggling routes. Tens of thousands of SIAs—from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa—entered Panama and Colombia in recent years. Nearly all the SIA migrants were headed to the United States and most came from Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, and India.