The Department of Homeland Security is warning that an increasing amount of people on the U.S. terrorist watch list are being encountered at the border.
In its 2024 Homeland Threat Assessment report released this week, the agency said that “[a]lthough encounters with migrants have declined from record highs in December, migrants seeking entry to the United States are still arriving at a rate that is on pace to nearly match 2022 total encounters.”
“As part of this increase, we have encountered growing numbers of individuals in the Terrorist Screening Data Set (TSDS), also known as the ‘watchlist,'” the report said.
As of July, around 160 non-U.S. persons on that watchlist have “attempted to enter the United States via the southern border this year, most of whom were encountered attempting to illegally enter between ports of entry,” according to the DHS.
The figure is an increase from the approximately 100 encounters of that kind throughout fiscal year 2022, it said, noting that inclusion on the terror watchlist ranges from people being known associates of watchlisted individuals to being directly engaged in terrorist activity themselves.
“During the next year, we assess that the threat of violence from individuals radicalized in the United States will remain high, but largely unchanged, marked by lone offenders or small group attacks that occur with little warning,” the DHS also said. “Foreign terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS are seeking to rebuild overseas, and they maintain worldwide networks of supporters that could seek to target the Homeland.”
Despite terrorism remaining a top threat, DHS said in the report that it believes illegal drugs produced in Mexico and sold in the U.S. will continue to kill more Americans than anything else.
“During the past year, U.S.-based traffickers have become more involved in the mixing and pressing of fentanyl, contributing to more lethal mixes of this already deadly drug,” the report said.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that by releasing the Homeland Threat Assessment report, “we will enable our partners across state, local, tribal, and territorial government, along with the private and non-profit sectors, to make better-informed decisions that account for these security challenges.”