By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor
(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden’s border policies lead to an increased threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, Senate Republicans say.
“It is painfully clear that with Joe Biden’s open border policies, our country is really at an increased threat for a terrorist attack,” Senate Republican Conference chairman Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said at a press event Tuesday.
Barrasso, Sen. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, and several others, joined Republican Texas U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn last week on another trip to the Texas-Mexico border, where they said they witnessed a “national security threat and humanitarian crisis.”
The senators arrived after Border Patrol agents apprehended illegal foreign nationals who were carrying improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Barrasso said they “were tailor made for terrorism; they were the size of cannon balls.”
“In terms of 9/11, it only took a dozen terrorists to take down the World Trade Center as well as hit the Pentagon,” he said.
The senators expressed their concerns about a likely terrorist attack on the same day FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate separately about terrorist threats facing Americans.
“The reality of the terrorism threat has been elevated since 2023 but the reality of the ongoing war in Middle East has raised a threat of [a terrorist] attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level,” Wray said. Since Hamas terrorists attacked Israel, “we assess the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes we have never seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago.”
Wray said the FBI is conducting multiple investigations into Hamas-related threats in the U.S.
“But it’s not just Hamas,” he said. “The world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, the Iranians, for instance, have directly, or by hiring criminals, mounted assassination attempts against dissidents and high-ranking current and former U.S. government officials, including right here on American soil.”
Cornyn said, “What happened on Oct. 7 is a reminder that terrorist organizations can strike at any time,” pointing to the record number of known, suspected terrorists apprehended trying to enter the U.S. illegally in fiscal 2023. Border Patrol data puts that number at 736. The overwhelming majority, 66% of them, were apprehended at the northern border.
“But we don’t know how many more made their way safely into the interior of the United States,” Cornyn said.
Cornyn also expressed concerns about the Biden administration policy of requiring Border Patrol agents to release into the U.S. many Russians, Chinese, Iranians, Saudis, and Nigerians after they’ve illegally entered.
“This is dangerous,” he said.
Ricketts, who previously visited the Texas-Mexico border as Nebraska’s governor, said the crisis was created by “Joe Biden’s failed and inept policies.” Pointing to the record number of terrorists apprehended under the Biden administration, he said, “we are opening ourselves up for a terrorist attack. Joe Biden has created this crisis. If he will not act, Congress must act.”
Barrasso said, “The thing is the Border Patrol knows what they need to do to solve the problem: enforce the law.” This includes reinstating Trump-era policies like the Remain in Mexico policy and finishing construction of the border wall. Both were halted by Biden on his first day in office.
Barrasso and others referred to over 8 million apprehensions and an estimated 2 million gotaways since Biden’s been in office.
The Center Square first reported that over 10 million foreign nationals were reported illegally entering the U.S., including an estimated minimum 1.7 million gotaways. This number is now believed to be closer to 2 million.