National Security

EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans Probe Mayorkas, Wray On ISIS-Tied Individual That Smuggled Migrants Across Border

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Jennie Taer Investigative Reporter
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Top Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday demanding information regarding an ISIS-tied smuggler that crossed the southern border.

The members raised concerns regarding reports that federal authorities were trying to track down more than a dozen Uzbeki migrants smuggled through the U.S.-Mexico border by an ISIS-tied smuggler, according to the letter obtained first by the Daily Caller News Foundation. Authorities screened and released the group of migrants into the country earlier this year after crossing the southern border and claiming asylum; the Turkish government later arrested the smuggler. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Feds Flagged Nearly 75,000 Illegal Migrants As Potential National Security Risks)

“This report is only the latest in a series of incidents that raise concerns about DHS’s failure, under Secretary Mayorkas’ leadership, to secure the southwest border and protect the American people from potential terrorist threats. The Committee repeatedly expressed warnings about the security of our southwest border and the potential for terrorists to exploit the vulnerabilities due to the Biden administration’s open-border policies,” the lawmakers, led by Chairman Mark Green, wrote in the letter.

The lawmakers requested documents and records pertaining to the agencies’ oversight of potential terrorists at the southern border.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 28: Committee chairman Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) speaks during a House Homeland Security Committee about the U.S-Mexico border on Capitol Hill February 28, 2023 in Washington, DC. This is the committee’s first hearing on border security since the Republicans took control of the House. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The letter also stated that both DHS and the FBI failed to provide requested information and a briefing regarding terror watchlist apprehensions of southern border crossers after the committee requested it in May.

“I am extremely concerned by not only the newest report of individuals with possible ties to terrorist groups working to exploit our open Southwest border, but also the numerous unsatisfied requests for information sent by Homeland Republicans to Secretary Mayorkas and Director Wray leading up to this report. We cannot stand by as threats to our homeland security go unchecked. This Committee needs answers on this urgent matter in order to effectively conduct oversight,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green said in a statement to the DCNF.

In recent years, federal authorities patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border have recorded an illegal immigration surge. Border Patrol recorded more than 2.2 million migrant encounters in fiscal year 2022, which was the highest number on record, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data. Border Patrol has already recorded 1.6 million migrant encounters between October 2022 and July, according to CBP.

Border Patrol arrests of individuals whose names appeared on the terror watchlist at the southern border jumped from 15 in fiscal year 2021, to 98 in fiscal year 2022 and 146 in the first 10 months of fiscal year 2023, according to federal data.

“The Committee has serious concerns about security at our southwest border and the potential for terrorists to take advantage of the glaring vulnerabilities created by the Biden administration’s open border policies,” the lawmakers wrote.

DHS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“While the FBI has not identified a specific terrorism plot associated with foreign nationals who recently entered the United States at the southern border, we always work with our field offices across the country, as well as our domestic and international partners, to identify any potential illegal activity or terrorism threats. As always, we ask anyone with information about federal crimes or threats to public safety to report it to the FBI,” the FBI said in a statement to the DCNF.

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