A new report by the State Department warns that America’s southern neighbors are more open than ever to terrorist infiltration and transit. Those realities pose a security risk to the United States, although the State Department suggests that terrorists are more likely to exploit other weaknesses in order to attack us.

“Many Latin American countries have porous borders, limited law enforcement capabilities, and established smuggling routes. These vulnerabilities offer opportunities to foreign terrorist groups,” according to the State Department’s annual “Country Reports on Terrorism.” 

The report acknowledges the obvious – that the “U.S. southern border remains vulnerable to potential terrorist transit.” It also notes that besides our porous southern border, there are numerous other vulnerabilities that terrorist organizations can exploit – many of which were detailed in the 9/11 Commission’s report. “Terrorist groups likely [will]seek other means of trying to enter the United States,” the State Department report conjectures.

Maybe. But reports by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) should make it clear that infiltrating across the southern border is still poses very significant risks.

For the second consecutive year, CPB reports that the Laredo Border Patrol Sector in Texas is the favorite crossing point into the U.S. for illegal aliens from Bangladesh, a recruiting ground for terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).

In the first six months of fiscal year 2018, 274 Bangladesh nationals were arrested in Laredo.

After reviewing CBP sector reports, Judicial Watch concluded, “There’s no telling how many have slipped in.”

Prosecutions of high-risk migrants called Special Interest Aliens have revealed that the use of fraudulent documents, human traffickers and illegal border crossings to Europe are also common among SIAs who travel from the same terrorist-related countries to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Growing numbers of illegal aliens from terrorist-connected nations — including Pakistan and Afghanistan — have attempted to enter the U.S. from Mexico. In 2015, dozens were held in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) processing center after breaching the Texas border.

One of the detainees, another Bangladesh national, said he arrived in El Paso after traveling from South America to Juarez, Mexico. At the time, the U.S. had just issued a terrorism alert that militants in Bangladesh may be targeting westerners.

As the Center for Immigration Studies critically concluded this summer: “The cross-border migration of people from Muslim-majority nations, as a trending terror threat, has gone missing during contentious national debates over President Trump’s border security policies and wall.” While most such illegal border-crossers are likely economic migrants, the risk that trained jihadists might exploit vulnerabilities along southern border must be taken into account.

It’s about time the bureaucrats at Foggy Bottom cleared their heads and awoke to the challenges at our southern border.

Bob Dane writes for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

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