Authored by Savannah Hulsey Pointer via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Former Chief of Border Patrol Rodney Scott explained to members of the House that the vetting process used to keep criminals out of the United States is only accurate in cases where agents have access to correct information.
According to the former border chief, agents have no information about migrants from "the vast majority of the globe," including illegal immigrants from countries like the African nation of Mauritania.
Mr. Scott told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement during a Sept. 14 hearing that the process used by border protection agents is only as good as the information that the federal government has access to, which, globally speaking, is quite limited.
The witness, who is currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Border Security at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, formerly served for 29 years in the U.S. Border Patrol before retiring as Chief of the Border Patrol in August of 2021.
Questions about illegal immigrants from Mauritania surfaced after data about increased apprehensions by border patrol agents of individuals on the terror watch list was brought to light.
According to the lawmakers, from 2017 to 2020, Border Patrol encountered 14 illegal immigrants on the terror watch list.
But from 2021 to 2023, that number jumped to 263, and 149 of those encounters were in 2023 up to this point alone.
While several lawmakers voiced concern about potential known and unknown "gotaways" which could also have been problematic, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) questioned Mr. Scott about the potential that those not on any list the United States has access to could have terror connections.
Mr. Biggs asked if there were nations that illegal immigrations were traveling from that federal officials "can't get any background on?"
Mr. Scott responded, "That would be the vast majority of the globe. We have very little information. We act on what we have, but when you think about the total population of the world, we have very, very minuscule data."
Mr. Biggs asked specifically about individuals from the nation of Mauritania, saying border patrol in his home state of Arizona has seen a sharp increase in illegal migrants from that area.
The lawmaker cited a call from a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agent asserting that in his Arizona sector, they apprehended a group of 250 Mauritanians.
According to Mr. Scott, Mauritania is a country that CBP has no access to background information about, and individuals from that area would have been largely unvetted.
Committee ranking member Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) asked that the committee consider the "facts" pointing out during her opening statement that there has never been an American citizen killed due to terrorist attacks from an individual that has entered the United States illegally through the southern border.
"That's right," the Washington Democrat went on. "Not a single American has been injured or killed by a terrorist who crossed our southern border without authorization. So don't fall for Republican fear-mongering.
"This hearing is purely intended to scare the public to demonize immigrants and to score cheap political points as we head towards that next election," Ms. Jayapal said, going on to point out that those on the terror watch list who were apprehended were given vetting by the Department of Homeland Security.
She also asserted that bipartisan immigration reform could deter illegal immigration by creating "real legal pathways for people to enter the United States to be with their families to escape terrible situations in their countries and to contribute to our economy, our communities, and our country."
During his opening remarks, Committee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) asserted that the Biden administration's executive orders have "opened our borders to the world by holding construction of the border wall, rescinding the remain in Mexico policy, and forbidding ICE from enforcing court-ordered deportations."
5.7 Million Illegals
Mr. McClintock cited information indicating that 5.7 million illegal aliens from over 160 countries have illegally crossed our border since the Biden administration's change in policy, and over 2.6 million of those individuals have been released into the United States. That number is higher than the population of New Mexico.
"Another 1.7 million known 'gotaways' have entered as well. That's an additional illegal population the size of West Virginia, and since we have no access to most foreign criminal databases," Mr. McClintock said. "We know little of the foreign criminal records of these 2.6 million illegal immigrants as they've been released into our communities."