Sen. Ernst: Terrorist Watchlist Encounters Way Up Because Southern Border ‘Is Wide Open’

By Peyton Holliday | September 22, 2022 | 4:09pm EDT
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)   (Getty Images)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) (Getty Images)

(CNS News) -- When asked why there has been a dramatic increase in the number of encounters with people on the Terrorist Watchlist this year, at the southern border, Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said it’s because the border “is wide open.”

At the Capitol on Sept. 21, CNS News asked Sen. Ernst, “According to Customs and Border Protection, in fiscal year 2020 it encountered three people on the Terrorist Watchlist trying to cross the Southwest border between the ports of entry. Last year, it encountered 15. In the first 11 months of this fiscal year it had encountered 78. Why do you think there has been an increase?”

Ernst replied, “Because it is wide open and people now know that they can get across.”

“So more people are coming in and, of course, there's going to be more nefarious actors coming across as well,” she said.

As CNS News has reported, “The 78 Border Patrol encounters with people on the terrorist watchlist reported in the first 11 months of this fiscal year is 5.2 times the 15 encounters that occurred through all of fiscal 2021.

“In fiscal 2017, according to the CBP data, the Border Patrol only had 2 encounters with individuals on the terrorist watchlist between the ports of entry on the Southwest border. In fiscal 2018, it was 6. In fiscal 2019, it was zero. In fiscal 2020, it was 3. In fiscal 2021, it was 15. Then, in October through August of this fiscal year, it was 78.”

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Terrorist Screening Dataset (TSDS) holds sensitive information on terrorist identities. Although TSDS originally contained information on only known or suspected terrorists (KSTs), it now includes individuals that pose a potential threat to the U.S.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

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