Homeland Republicans Demand Answers About DHS Internal Document Warning of Potential Iran-Backed Terrorists Crossing Southwest Border
October 27, 2023
‘It is concerning that the Committee on Homeland Security learned about this information through public news sources’
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN); Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX), chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence; and Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Border Security and Enforcement, demanded documents and information from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after an internal document was leaked warning Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel that Iran-backed terrorists could be inspired by the heinous October 7 terrorist attacks on our ally, Israel, to illegally cross our Southwest border. The Chairmen requested answers on what intelligence and communications led to the drafting of the document, as well as the names of all Department employees involved in drafting, reviewing, approving, or disseminating the document, which was issued October 20 by CBP’s San Diego Field Office Intelligence Division.
In the letter, the Chairmen state,“It is concerning that the Committee on Homeland Security (Committee) learned about this information through public news sources and not directly from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) despite the Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) transmitting near-daily situational reports about the Israel-Hamas conflict to the Committee. We write to request additional information about this matter, to include DHS’s efforts to identify, investigate, and mitigate these national security threats.”
The Chairmen continue,“The document alerts officers of ‘Possible Indicators’ of those individuals potentially encountered at the Southwest border such as ‘Military age males,’ ‘Single travelers,’ and an ‘Undetermined return plan.’ Finally, the document provides ‘Questions of Interest,’ to probe those individuals potentially encountered at the Southwest border about their possible association with groups that the United States has designated as terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine or any other similar organization.”
The Chairmen conclude,“The Committee continues to have serious concerns about the security of our Southwest border and the potential for terrorists to take advantage of the glaring vulnerabilities created by the Biden administration’s open border polices. To assist the Committee with its continued oversight of terrorist threats at the Southwest border, please provide the following documents and information as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 1, 2023.”
Read the full letter here.
Since the Biden administration took office, over 6 million aliens have been encountered at the Southwest border, triple the amount under the previous administration. Among those, the number of both criminal aliens and individuals on the TSDB encountered attempting to evade apprehension have increased substantially as well, showing it is sheer volume—not enhanced security—that has caused this increase. During the Committee’s investigation into Secretary Mayorkas’ mishandling of the border crisis, the Committee found that 169 individuals on the terrorist watchlist have been apprehended attempting to illegally cross our Southwest border between ports of entry—an over 50% increase since all of the last fiscal year. Individuals from more than 160 countries have been apprehended crossing the border illegally, including aliens from countries on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.
This week, Chairman Green and Subcommittee Chairman Pfluger led a hearing to examine the escalating threats posed by the Iranian regime and its proxies to the U.S. Homeland. Witnesses warned of the potential terrorist exploitation of vulnerabilities at our open Southwest border and the need to urgently address the numerous Iranian-backed plots and influence operations on American soil.
As documented in the Committee’s Phase Two interim report on Secretary Mayorkas’ handling of the border crisis, Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens told Committee staff during a May 2023 interview that he was “absolutely” concerned that the high flow of illegal aliens through the Del Rio Sector was impeding his agents’ ability to reduce the number of gotaways, which could allow suspected terrorists the opportunity to cross our borders undetected. He said, “[I]f my men and women are stuck in a humanitarian effort of processing these folks, they cannot be in two places at once. They cannot be out on patrol. And where I need them out on patrol is to not only account for those gotaways but to reduce them, where possible. Everything revolves, as I said before, around having those men and women on the ground doing the job. … I need them out doing the job that they were hired to do. And where they’re doing something else, they cannot be there.”
In April, Subcommittee Chairman Pfluger led a hearing to hear firsthand testimony from national security experts on the dangerous consequences to U.S. homeland security from the Biden administration’s deadly and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. Witnesses testified on the national security threat posed by the 1.7 million known gotaways at our porous Southwest border, which could empower terrorists to cross undetected in the wake of the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.