Skip to content


Homeland Republicans Probe Admin Handling of Afghan, Pakistani Nationals on Terrorist Watchlist Crossing Southwest Border

May 24, 2023

Homeland Republicans Probe Admin Handling of Afghan, Pakistani Nationals on Terrorist Watchlist Crossing Southwest Border

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN), Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Chairman August Pfluger (R-TX), and Subcommittee on Border Security and Enforcement Chairman Clay Higgins (R-LA) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray investigating the reported arrests of an Afghan national and a Pakistani national on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), who were apprehended illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on May 10 and May 12, 2023, respectively. In the letter, Homeland Security Republicans request more information on the background of the two individuals arrested, including their specific terrorist ties, the screening process and detainment of the individuals, and whether DHS and the FBI had any prior knowledge of their travel plans.

Last week, Chairman Green joined Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) on a letter to Secretary Mayorkas investigating more broadly how DHS is handling the elevated national security risk presented by the increasing number of known or suspected terrorists illegally crossing our Southwest border.

In the letter, the Members state“According to multiple sources from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Afghan national was apprehended near San Diego, California, along with a group of aliens who had crossed the border illegally. Reports indicate that a fingerprint scan revealed he was a match to someone on the Terrorist Screening Database, triggering an investigation by the FBI.  Additionally, a Pakistani national on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist was arrested by Border Patrol agents in southeastern Arizona, a day after the expiration of Title 42, according to reports.”

The Members continue“These reported arrests raise serious questions about the security of our Southwest border and the potential for terrorists to take advantage of the glaring vulnerabilities due to the Biden-Harris administration’s open-border policies.” 

The Members conclude“After you provide the requested information in writing, we request that DHS and the FBI provide Committee staff a briefing about these arrests of foreign nationals on the terrorist watchlist no later than June 5, 2023. To assist the Committee’s continued oversight of the threats posed by illegal border crossers who are in the Terrorist Screening Database as well as the Committee’s examination of DHS’s role and processes regarding the administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, we ask that you provide responses to the following questions regarding the Afghan national and the Pakistani national on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist.”

Read the full letter here.


Last month, the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence heard firsthand testimony from national security experts on the dangerous consequences to U.S. homeland security from the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which allowed the country to once again become a terrorist breeding ground under Taliban rule. In turn, witnesses detailed the possibility that foreign terrorist organizations could take advantage of our vulnerable and porous Southwest border.

Over the span of four days earlier this month, six known or suspected terrorists were apprehended illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, including the two individuals referred to in the letter to Secretary Mayorkas and Director Wray. In April 2023, Border Patrol agents apprehended 16 illegal immigrants on the TSDB attempting to cross the Southwest border between ports of entry—more than all of FY17, FY18, FY19, and FY20 combined. Since the beginning of FY22, at least 200 of these individuals have been apprehended. With roughly 1.5 million gotaways since President Biden took office, there is no way for our Border Patrol agents to tell how many individuals on the TSDB are included in those that have evaded detection.

In April 2022, then Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and current Chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), asked Secretary Mayorkas if any of these individuals were still in the country. Secretary Mayorkas responded, in part, “I do not know the answer to your question.”