Border Patrol agents nabbed 15 illegal immigrants listed on the FBI’s terror watchlist trying to sneak across the US-Mexico border in May — a month that also saw a record number of migrant encounters, according to official figures.
The possible terrorists were among the staggering 239,416 migrants encountered at the southern border last month, according to a breakdown of Customs and Border Patrol figures first reported by the Washington Times and obtained by The Post.
The total number of May crossings marks the highest number of migrant encounters recorded in one month ever and brings the total migrant encounters in FY 2022 to more than 1.5 million, according to the latest data released by CBP Wednesday.
Experts warn that the rising number of illegal immigrants attempting to cross into the US could mean that many others on the terror list may be sneaking in undetected.
“The big worry is with the chaos down there, when you have these kinds of people coming to the border, you have to assume that some of them got in,” Todd Bensman, author of “America’s Covert Border War,” about how terrorists try to exploit the immigration system, told the Washington Times.
Bensman, who tracked potential terrorists when he worked for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the average used to be one of two every few months.
The new total is a “bad number,” he warned.
“It’s always a five-alarm fire if somebody comes over who’s on the TSDB,” he told the newspaper, referring to the Terrorist Screening Database.
Last month, an Iraqi man living in Ohio was busted by federal agents over a plot to assassinate former President George W. Bush. The plan included smuggling four ISIS-linked killers across the southern border.
Mark Morgan, CBP commissioner during the Trump administration, said the 15 encounters of people on the watchlist and the surge in the overall number of migrants indicate a “legitimate national security vulnerability on our southern border.”
“I’m concerned that the next terrorist attacker is already in the United States because of this administration’s open border policies,” Morgan told the Washington Times.
Rep. John Katko, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, also recalled how he was criticized last year when he relayed concern among agents that terror suspects were entering the US.
“Fast forward a year, and our initial concerns have not only been vindicated but have grown to represent one of the most disturbing facets of the Biden administration’s border crisis,” Katko of New York told newspaper in a statement Thursday.
He said the chaos at the border makes it difficult to determine exactly “how many watch-listed individuals have entered the United States amidst the chaos at our southwest border.”
Roughly 12,000 people are in the custody of CBP on an average day but fewer than half of them are removed, the Washington Times reported.
The remainder are let go at the border or transferred to other agencies.
CBP said people who appear on the terrorist database and are picked up after entering the US can be detained and removed, or turned over to another government agency or law enforcement authorities for prosecution.
The agency doesn’t break down those specific figures.