Suspected Terrorists Crossing Border ‘At a Level We Have Never Seen Before,’ Outgoing Border Patrol Chief Says
Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, August 16, 2021
Unprecedented numbers of known or suspected terrorists have crossed the southern border in recent months, the outgoing Border Patrol chief said.
The head of the Border Patrol, Rodney Scott, told his 19,000 agents before retiring on Aug. 14 that their national security mission is paramount right now despite the Biden administration’s focus on migrant families and children who are coming across the United States-Mexico boundary at record rates.
“Over and over again, I see other people talk about our mission, your mission, and the context of it being immigration or the current crisis today being an immigration crisis,” Scott said in a video message to agents, obtained by the Washington Examiner. “I firmly believe that it is a national security crisis. Immigration is just a subcomponent of it, and right now, it’s just a cover for massive amounts of smuggling going across the southwest border — to include TSDBs at a level we have never seen before. That’s a real threat.”
TSDB refers to known or suspected terrorists, as identified in the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database.
“Your peers or you are taking criminals, pedophiles, rapists, murderers, and like I said before, even TSDB alerts off the streets and keeping them safe from America,” Scott said. “Even if we processed several thousand migrants that day and even if thousands of them were allowed into the U.S., you still took those threats off the street, and I think that’s worth it. So please don’t ever undersell how important your mission is.”
The surge of migrants from mostly Central American countries has prompted Border Patrol to pull more than 40% of agents from the field to help transport, process, and care for people in custody, meaning fewer agents are able to patrol for national security threats. Often, smugglers send over large groups of families and children to divert agents to one area and then run other contraband or people over the border where agents are not present.
Shortly after taking office in January, CBP told members of Congress that federal law enforcement had stopped four people on the terror watchlist. A CBP news release about these specific encounters was taken down from the government agency’s website hours after going up, prompting complaints from Republicans about the Department of Homeland Security’s transparency.
The Washington Examiner was first to report in June that Biden administration officials were forcing out Scott at Border Patrol headquarters in Washington after 16 months on the job.
One person with firsthand knowledge of Scott’s decision said in May that Scott was told to retire, resign, or move away from headquarters. The decision by Scott’s bosses was “completely driven by politics,” even though Scott’s position is apolitical and he is a 29-year employee of the Border Patrol.