- The Washington Times - Monday, August 15, 2022

Border Patrol agents caught 10 more terrorism suspects at the U.S.-Mexico boundary in July, according to new numbers released by Homeland Security on Monday.

Fentanyl seizures at the southern border also hit an all-time high, suggesting the overall flow of the deadly drug is skyrocketing.

Customs and Border Protection reported catching 2,072 pounds of fentanyl at the border, up from 640 pounds in June, and obliterating the previous record set in April of 1,281 pounds.

Officials believe that seizures are a yardstick of overall flow, so the more seized, the more is likely getting through.

Illegal immigration at the southern border, as measured by arrests and encounters, did dip for a second straight month, with just fewer than 200,000 people crossing the border illegally caught by CBP agents and officers.

CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus took credit, saying it appears the administration’s effort to discourage new migrants is working.

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“This marks the second month in a row of decreased encounters along the Southwest border. While the encounter numbers remain high, this is a positive trend and the first two-month drop since October 2021,” he said.

He pointed to an ad campaign this spring warning would-be migrants of the dangers of the journey as a factor in cutting the flow of people.

But his own numbers suggested things aren’t so rosy.

The number of “unique individuals” — those who haven’t tried to cross in the previous year — actually rose 1% in July, compared to June.

CBP often touts the unique individual number as a better sense of what’s happening at the border, given the high rate of recidivism due to the Title 42 pandemic border closure policy.

The terrorism numbers also remained worryingly high.

The numbers are derived from Border Patrol arrests of people whose names pop in the Terrorist Screening Database.

Agents at the southern border now have apprehended a total of 66 people listed in the database so far this fiscal year, which dates back to Oct. 1. A month ago, that figure stood at just 56, showing that 10 more were caught in July alone.

By contrast, in all of 2021, just 15 people listed in the terrorism database were caught. And in the four years before then, just 11 total people on the list were caught at the southern border.

Biden administration officials last year downplayed claims that terrorism suspects were using the southern border to get into the country.

But under pressure from Republicans in Congress, the administration began to release the numbers publicly, and they back up GOP claims.

Rodney Scott, former chief of the Border Patrol, told The Washington Times earlier this summer that the terrorism numbers are “beyond red flairs, those are rocket flashes going on” to warn about the danger at the border.

He said the most worrying aspect is that the people who are caught are likely only a subset of those coming. They’re probably people who didn’t know they were on the watchlist.

“Anybody who actually knows or has a fear they’re on the watch list, they’re coming through those gaps and holes,” Mr. Scott said.

July’s border numbers did contain some clear positive trends.

The number of migrant children caught while crossing the border illegally without parents — perhaps the most vulnerable population at the border — dropped from 15,255 to 13,299.

Migrants traveling as families, meanwhile, remained about static, at about 52,000 people in July.

On the drug front, seizures can vary dramatically month-to-month.

Cocaine seizures were down 56% in July, while methamphetamine and heroin seizures were up 15% and 8% respectively.

But the fentanyl numbers were eye-popping, tripling June’s total.

Both CBP’s Office of Field Operations, which mans the official border crossings, and the Border Patrol, which covers the areas between the ports, saw record numbers in June.

The trafficking is heavily concentrated in California and Arizona.

The Washington Times has reached out to CBP for comment.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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