As more foreign nationals on the terror watchlist attempt to cross the southwest border, a Texas congressman has introduced legislation to require U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to screen each individual crossing the border.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams (TX-25) introduced the “Identifying Potential Terrorist at the Border Act of 2024.” The measure will require Border Patrol agents to detain all individuals attempting to cross the border until it is determined that they do not match with any individual on the Federal Terror Watchlist. 

Currently, it is common practice for Border Patrol agents to screen each illegal alien they come in contact with. However, it is not explicitly stated in the law. 

Williams says with the recent influx of terror-watchlisted individuals attempting to cross the border, agents need to screen them now more than ever. 

“We are a land of laws, and it is past time this Administration acts like it,” said Williams. “Joe Biden is encouraging a deadly invasion of fighting-age men on American soil and each day this Democrat-created influx of illegal aliens allows bad actors to slip past Border Patrol undetected.”

“Under current law, CBP is not required to screen migrants against the terrorist watchlist database, and as we have seen too often, dangerous criminals are released into our nation who go on to harm American citizens and communities. My bill requires CBP to screen and detain all individuals attempting to cross the border until a match is returned on that migrant. Now more than ever, we must be aware of who is in our country as Republicans fight to restore law and order and end Biden’s deadly open border policies that are destroying America,” he added. 

Texas Scorecard has reported on other instances where illegal aliens connected to terrorist organizations have attempted to cross the border.

Earlier this month, a 40-year-old Colombian national registered on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s terror watchlist was apprehended in Eagle Pass, where he was attempting to enter the country. 

In another instance, an illegal alien from Lebanon was caught attempting to cross the border in El Paso. The 22-year-old admitted to Border Patrol agents that he was a part of the Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah and planned to make a bomb once in the country.

In Fiscal Year 2023, the number of encounters at the Southwest border hit a record high of 2.4 million individuals. Already in Fiscal Year 2024, border patrol agents have encountered more than 900,000 illegal aliens. 

In addition to the high number of encounters, terror-watchlisted individuals have become more eager to cross the border. In FY23, 172 terror-watchlisted people were encountered at the border. Now in just four months—between October 2023 and January 2024—there have been 59 individuals encountered. 

Texas has attempted to curb the flow of illegal aliens crossing the border by passing Senate Bill 4, which makes illegal entry a state crime that results in removal. However, the law has been placed on hold as it moves through the courts.

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.