Months after Judicial Watch reported that migrants from terrorist nations try to enter the U.S. via Mexico at record rates, government figures show that more than 10,000 illegal aliens from countries that sponsor terrorism currently live here. It’s not clear how they entered the country but federal authorities know about them because they have either been deported or have final removal orders pending. Nevertheless, they are not in custody and roam freely in unsuspecting communities throughout America.
The distressing statistics were obtained from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by a public interest group that favors secure borders and exposes the harms of mass migration. The Washington D.C. nonprofit filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and made the figures public this month. They show 10,340 non-detained illegal immigrants from Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea on ICE’s national docket as of June 2018. Iran tops the list with 6,331, followed by Syria (2,128), Sudan (1,860) and North Korea (21). All four countries have been designated as sponsors of terrorism by the State Department.
The U.S. government has determined that Iran is the “foremost state sponsor of terrorism” because it provides a range of support, including financial, training and equipment, to groups worldwide, particularly Hezbollah. Syria is also a hotbed of Hezbollah militants and Al Qaeda-linked jihadists. A recent RAND Corporation study concluded that the most significant threat to the United States comes from terrorist groups operating in a handful of Middle Eastern countries that include Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The State Department also classifies Syria as a dangerous country plagued by terrorism. “There is a terrorist threat from violent extremist groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, (ISIL), formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQ), the al-Nusrah Front, and others,” according to the State Department assessment. “Tactics for these groups include the use of suicide bombers, kidnapping, use of small and heavy arms, and improvised explosive devices in major city centers, including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr.”
During the Syrian refugee crisis, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) admitted that dozens of Syrian nationals suspected of having terrorist ties slipped into the U.S. The agency tried to downplay the travesty, claiming that federal agents missed “possible derogatory information” about the immigrants due to “a lapse in vetting.” Among those who slipped through the cracks is a man who failed a polygraph test after applying to work at a U.S. military installation and another who communicated with an Islamic State leader. Regardless, President Obama let thousands of Syrians settle in the U.S. even as his own intelligence and immigration officials warned that individuals with ties to terrorist groups used the program to infiltrate the country and that there was no way to properly screen refugees.
Along the southern border federal agents routinely encounter individuals from terrorist nations and DHS considers them one of the top threats to the United States. 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. An investigation completed by Congress earlier this year found that tens of thousands of SIAs—from the Middle East, Asia and Africa—entered Panama and Colombia in the past few years. Nearly all the SIA migrants were headed to the United States and most came from Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bangladesh and India. Encounters with the special interest individuals resulted in the seizure of tens of thousands of fraudulent documents—including passports and visas—that facilitated travel from their countries of origin through the Americas, according to a report released earlier this year by the congressional committee that conducted the probe.
The famously porous Mexican border is an easy pathway into the U.S. for many SIAs. In Laredo, Texas alone authorities report an astounding 300% increase in immigrants from Bangladesh, a south Asian Islamic country well known as a recruiting ground for terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).