As the bench-clearing brawl over border security roars on, it would behoove wall advocates to broaden their pitch. A wall would slash illegal immigration on the southern frontier. And it also would bolster U.S. national security and counterterrorism.
Not every illegal alien dodges Gila monsters and skirts cacti in search of the American dream. Beyond old-fashioned killers, such as the remarkably brutal MS-13 gang, "special interest aliens" hail from nations rife with militant Islam, including Iran, Pakistan, and Syria. Most of these border jumpers may be perfectly harmless, but the risk that even a few may crave American blood is a needless gamble.
Federal agents in 2015 nabbed 3,977 people from the four places that the State Department then classified as "state sponsors of terrorism," plus 10 others that the Transportation Safety Administration designated as "countries of interest." All told, 67,180 individuals from those 14 nations were intercepted while attempting to enter America illegally, from fiscal years 2006 through 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Securityâ€™s 2015 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, released last November.
These latest statistics encompass all U.S. borders. However, among the 337,117 illegal aliens captured entering America in FY 2015, 331,333 (98.3 percent) were apprehended on the southern frontier. One safely could argue that a similar proportion of illegals from these 14 trouble spots also pierced the U.S./Mexican border.
Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria were designated as "state sponsors of terrorism" through 2014, but Obama delisted Cuba on May 29, 2015. Among these four countries, the 2015 Yearbook reported the following apprehensions:
Cuba: 2,281 (in FY 2015); 42,355 (in FY 2006â€“15)
Iran: 154 and 2,410
Sudan: 81 and 1,590
Syria: 57 and 904
Among the TSAâ€™s 10 "countries of interest," DHS cited these arrests:
Afghanistan: 71 (FY 2015); 739 (2006â€“15)
Algeria: 26 and 446
Iraq: 152 and 2,124
Lebanon: 94 and 1,742
Libya: 22 and 190
Nigeria: 274 and 4,955
Pakistan: 287 and 5,198
Saudi Arabia: 276 and 1,593
Somalia: 131 and 2,101
Yemen: 71 and 833
Fortunately, no terror attack has been tied to Muslim extremists who breached the U.S./Mexican border so far. But who knows? Such fanatics could be here already, perhaps to raise money, train jihadists, or radicalize peaceful Muslims.
• "Recent reports state that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has apprehended several members of known Islamist terrorist organizations crossing the southern border in recent years," Representative Ron DeSantis (R - Florida) stated at a March 2016 House national security oversight hearing. "The Texas Department of Public Safety has reported that border security agencies have arrested several Somali immigrants crossing the southern border who are known members of al-Shabaab, the terrorist group that launched the deadly attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya."
• TDPS cited 143 "land border crossing encounters with watch-listed individuals in southwest border states between November 2013 and July 2014."
• Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane, a Somali who aided al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2011. He helped an undetermined number of suspected Somali terrorists cross the Tex-Mex border. "The Defendant stated that all of these individuals are ready to die for the cause," federal prosecutors explained in their sentencing memorandum. "He admits that he knowingly believed he was smuggling violent jihadists into the United States."
• U.S. Border Patrol agents caught Pakistanis Mukhtar Ahmad and Muhammad Azeem just north of Tijuana in September 2015. According to the Washington Times, databases tied Ahmad to a suspected or confirmed terrorist. A foreign intelligence agency already had forwarded information on Azeem.
• Border Patrol agents in 2014 also intercepted four male members of the Kurdish Workers' Party, which Washington considers a terrorist group. Each reportedly paid $8,000 to be trafficked from Istanbul to Paris to Mexico City to Americaâ€™s southern perimeter.
This article mentions only people whom federal officials stopped on the border. Those who entered undetected could be anywhere in America perhaps 50 feet away, watching you read these words.
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