- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 23, 2022

Rep. Henry Cuellar said Sunday it’s clear to him that the southern border “is not secure” after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection report found agents apprehended 20 terrorism suspects in September, setting a new monthly record.

The centrist Texas Democrat, whose district sits on the border, has distanced himself from the Biden administration, particularly on immigration, amid a competitive reelection battle against Republican challenger Cassy Garcia.

“No, the border is not secure. When you had 1.7 million individuals last year, and now another 2.7 [million], that’s over 4.5 million individuals encountered at the border, plus if you add the getaways, that’s going to be over 5 million individuals in just two years,” Mr. Cuellar said on “Fox News Sunday.” “No, the border is not secured, and we’ve got to make sure that we have repercussions there.”

CBP’s report, released just before midnight Friday, revealed that the number of suspected terrorists nabbed in September was higher than all of fiscal 2021. Agents encountered 227,547 illegal immigrants at the southern border during the month, the third highest on record, topped only by April and May of this year.

In an interview with NBC News last month, Vice President Kamala Harris asserted that the U.S. has “a secure border in that that is a priority for any nation, including ours, and our administration.” 

Those comments sparked fierce backlash from Republicans and at least one Democrat: Mr. Cuellar. Immigration is among the top issues that Republicans have campaigned on ahead of the midterm elections.  

SEE ALSO: More voters trust GOP over Democrats to handle key issues of economy, crime, immigration, says poll

“If we don’t have repercussions — we can be compassionate at the border, but you’ve got to enforce the law,” Mr. Cuellar said in his Fox interview. “And if you don’t return people, then this is what you’re going to have.”

• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at rtouchberry@washingtontimes.com.

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