Politics & Policy

The Terrorist Threat from the Southern ‘Border’

Patrolling the U.S.-Mexican border near Naco, Ariz., in 2013. (Samantha Sais/Reuters)
Trump and his supporters should stress the life-and-death aspect of illegal immigration.

Donald J. Trump met today with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and later flies to Arizona for a much- anticipated speech on immigration. On these and similar occasions, it would behoove the Republican presidential nominee to go beyond the usual concerns about Mexican and Central American migrants crossing America’s southern “border.” Trump should focus, privately and publicly, on what U.S. officials call “Other Than Mexicans.”

OTMs consist of all sorts of people who break into the United States from countries all around the world. These include such colorful locales as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.

In fact, federal agents in 2014 apprehended 4,930 individuals who hailed from the four nations that Washington listed as “state sponsors of terrorism,” plus the ten countries that the Transportation Safety Administration had designated as “of interest.” Foreigners who arrive legally from those places are subject to enhanced passenger screening. A total of 69,599 people from those 14 countries were arrested while trying to enter America illegally, from fiscal years 2005 through 2014, according to the 2014 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, published this month by the Department of Homeland Security.

While these figures involve all of America’s frontiers, among the 486,651 illegal aliens caught entering the United States, 479,371 (or 98.5 percent) were nailed along the southern Boundary. It probably is safe to assume that a similar proportion of illegal aliens from these worrisome nations also were captured waltzing in from Mexico.

Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria were designated as “state sponsors of terrorism” in 2014, although Obama delisted Cuba on May 29, 2015. For these four nations, the new DHS report cited alien apprehensions as follows:

Cuba: 2,872 (in 2014); 44,356 (in 2005–14)

Iran: 223 and 2,422

Sudan: 132 and 1,590

Syria: 61 and 960

DHS posted these data on apprehensions involving nationals from the TSA’s ten “countries of interest:”

Afghanistan: 66 (2014); 723 (2005–14)

Algeria: 42 and 459

Iraq: 173 and 2,136

Lebanon: 117 and 1,773

Libya: 36 and 173

Nigeria: 396 and 5,056

Pakistan: 350 and 5,703

Saudi Arabia: 226 and 1,357

Somalia: 169 and 2,062

Yemen: 67 and 829

(To examine these figures more deeply, please click here.)

 “It is important to note that ‘apprehended’ does not mean they were removed,” says Ira Mehlman, media director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Many are released pending hearings for which they are unlikely to show up.”

And, of course, these figures do not reflect those who successfully penetrated America undetected.

The frightful truth is that officials have no idea how many people are walking around illegally from these trouble spots, or where they are.

And even if one assumes that 99 percent of these people are here solely for freedom and prosperity, the remaining 1 percent would represent 49 potential terrorists in 2014 alone. That is more than double the 19 killers who conducted the September 11 attack. That is enough pairs of radical Muslims for 24 Boston Marathon bombings. And 49 lone rats could execute more than four dozen Orlando-style mass shootings.

The Left routinely twists legitimate concerns about perimeter security into cries of “Racism!” “Bigotry!” and “Xenophobia!” This demagoguery is far harder to perpetrate when one refers to people intruding from nations that have spawned San Bernardino gunwoman Tashfeen Malik, Underwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers.

This lethal risk is far from theoretical.

#related#“Islamic terrorists are training in southern border towns near American cities and have joined forces with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate the United States,” Judicial Watch reported on August 11. The conservative legal sentries cited an August 4 Justice Department announcement of its arrest of Erick Jamal Hendricks, 35, for providing material support to ISIS. According to Justice, Hendricks, a convert to Islam, told a confidential witness that “there were several ‘brothers’ located in Texas and Mexico; that he was attempting to ‘get brothers to meet face to face;’ and that he wanted ‘to get brothers to train together.’”

Sealing the southern “border” is about much more than people who trespass on American soil, pressure public services, and engage in common crime — atop the positive things that many illegals contribute.

Thus, Donald J. Trump and his supporters should stress this life-and-death aspect of illegal immigration and border security — from Mexico City to Phoenix, and all along the campaign trail.

Deroy Murdock — Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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