The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, when questioned during a House panel hearing today, was unable to say with certainty whether a suspected or a known terrorist has illegally entered the U.S. through the Southwest border.
During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing today focused on worldwide threats to America, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), asked DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson whether he is “aware of any apprehensions of suspected or known terrorists” who have attempted to enter the U.S. illegally during his tenure as homeland security chief. Johnson was sworn in as the fourth DHS secretary on December 23, 2013.
Rep. Chaffetz, who serves on the homeland security panel’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, clarified that he was referring to whether known terrorists, suspected terrorists, or individuals with ties to terrorist organizations have been arrested trying to come into the country illegally.
“Sitting here right now, no specific case comes to mind,” responded Johnson. “That doesn’t mean there is none.”
The DHS chief later emphasized, “Siting here right now, none comes to mind, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Nor does that mean there is no investigation of one either.”
Rep. Chaffetz, who also chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, told Johnson that four individuals with “ties to known terrorist organizations in the Middle East” were apprehended on September 10th trying the cross into the U.S. through two different stations in Texas.
When asked if he was aware of that situation, Johnson said, “I’ve heard reports to that effect. I don’t know the accuracy of the reports or how much credence to give them, but I’ve heard reports to that effect.”
Rep. Chaffetz’ office did not respond to Breitbart News requests to elaborate further on the circumstances surrounding the alleged September 10th apprehension of terrorism-linked aliens trying to enter the U.S. across the Texas border.
“I do agree with you that the challenge of those coming from countries other than Mexico particularly into the Rio Grande Valley sector [in Texas] is one I’m very concerned about. It’s something I’ve been concerned about since I took office in January,” the DHS secretary told Rep. Chaffetz. “I’ve seen it myself at our detention center in Brownsville when I visited there in January, there was something like 80 nationalities of illegal migrants present there.”
The congressman from Utah, citing an “internal” DHS document as the source, said that so far this fiscal year (Sept.1 thru October 30), the U.S. has apprehended aliens from 143 different countries trying to illegally enter the U.S., including 13 individuals from Syria, 6 from Iraq, and 4 from Iran.
Those countries have been identified by the U.S. government as having ties to terrorism.
Rep. Chaffetz noted that although nearly 466,000 illegal aliens have been apprehended so far in fiscal 2014, an estimated 157,012 have been identified as “got-aways” and 142,630 as “turn-backs.”
He went on to say that there were under 5 million border sensor hits in fiscal year 2013 compared to more than 6 million so far this year.
Rep. Chaffetz did acknowledge that animals in the area contribute to false positive hits.
The GOP representative questioned Johnson’s claim during the hearing that 70 to 90 percent of individuals who attempt to cross the border are apprehended.
Johnson then pointed out that the arrest rate varies by time and border sector.