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Critics Urge Tougher Stance Against National Security Risks at Border in Response to Leaked Memo

Critics Urge Tougher Stance Against National Security Risks at Border in Response to Leaked Memo

Illegal immigrants walk toward a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Sept. 28, 2023. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Brad Jones

Brad Jones

11/8/2023

Updated: 11/14/2023

House Republicans can do more to stem the tide of unvetted migrants—150 of whom were identified as suspected terrorists during the past fiscal year—flowing into the U.S. from Mexico, say critics such as Sebastian Gorka, a former national security adviser to former President Donald Trump.
In response to a leaked internal memo issued by the San Diego Field Office Intelligence Division of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Oct. 20 warning of national security risks and potential terrorist threats, Mr. Gorka criticized President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas for the administration’s border policies, as well as ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans for inaction on the border crisis.
A former British intelligence officer, Mr. Gorka told The Epoch Times in an interview preceding a California Republican Assembly convention in Costa Mesa, Calif. on Nov. 3 that while it’s too early to tell if newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson will take bolder action, House Republicans “have done nothing under Kevin McCarthy.”
“We’ll see if Johnson decides to do something. I hope he does, but really at the end of the day, it’s a function of the executive to protect our borders,” he said.
A leaked internal memo issued by the San Diego Field Office Intelligence Division of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Oct. 20, 2023. (Obtained by The Epoch Times)

A leaked internal memo issued by the San Diego Field Office Intelligence Division of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Oct. 20, 2023. (Obtained by The Epoch Times)

The first page of the leaked memo, obtained by The Epoch Times, warns of a potential rise in the number of illegal migrants from the Middle East attempting to cross the southern border.
“San Diego Field Office Intelligence Unit assesses that individuals inspired by, or reacting to the current Israel–Hamas conflict may attempt travel to or from the area of hostilities in the Middle East via circuitous transit across the Southwest border,” the unclassified memo states.
Militants associated with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—U.S.-designated terrorist organizations that have attacked Israel—could try to enter or travel through the United States, it warns.
“Foreign fighters motivated by ideology or mercenary soldiers of fortune may attempt to obfuscate travel to or from the US or from countries in the Middle East through Mexico,” according to the memo.
The memo alerts U.S. Border Patrol agents to be wary of military-age men crossing the border and lists other “possible indicators” and “questions of interest” that could reveal ties to terror groups.
The Israel–Hamas war began Oct. 7 when Hamas, backed by Hezbollah and PIJ, launched a surprise attack on hundreds of Israeli citizens and has since escalated.
According to CBP figures, 149 migrants identified as known terrorists, suspected terrorists, or associates of both were arrested after trying to enter the United States illegally in the 2023 fiscal year.

Red Teaming

Mr. Gorka said America’s enemies are “absolutely without a doubt” exploiting the open southern border to flood the U.S. with their operatives.
“There’s a function in the U.S. military called red teaming,” he said. “Next to a combatant commander, there’s an individual who is there to think like the enemy. If they’re in the Middle East they’re supposed to think like Jihadis. If they’re in Asia, they’re supposed to think like China,” he said.
“Let’s just red team for a millisecond: If you’re al Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, Al-Nusra, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, [and] you know the border is open, what would you have done for the last two-and-a-half years? You would have sent literally thousands of operatives into the United States.”
Sebastian Gorka, a former national security adviser to former President Donald Trump, at a California Republican Assembly convention in Costa Mesa, Calif. on Nov. 3, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Sebastian Gorka, a former national security adviser to former President Donald Trump, at a California Republican Assembly convention in Costa Mesa, Calif. on Nov. 3, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

House Republicans, he said, should essentially cut DHS’s Mayorkas from the government payroll.
“The House of Representatives has been under Republican control for nine months, and they’ve done nothing. They have the power of the purse, which—outside of being the commander in chief and using the nuclear football—is the most powerful thing we have in America,” he said. “They control the finances of the Department of Homeland Security. They should have zeroed out Alejandro Mayorka’s pay nine months ago. He should be receiving $1 a year, because he’s aiding and abetting the drug traffickers, the people who are raping women and young girls.”
Mr. Gorka, who recently visited the southern border with Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb in Arizona, said that with an average of 5,000 illegal migrants entering the country every day and 8 million in less than three years under the Biden administration, “if just one percent of them are terrorists” that is a military threat.
“Remember ... 9-11 was done by 19 men. Nineteen men killed 3,000 people.”

Asylum Claims

At the “Yuma gap,” an opening in the border wall at the Cocopah Indian Reservation in Arizona, “undocumented” migrants often discard their documents—including asylum cards from Mexico—behind the wall along the Mexican side before crossing into the U.S.
A man collects discarded identification and currency abandoned by illegal immigrants before crossing into the United States, in northern Mexico on May 18, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A man collects discarded identification and currency abandoned by illegal immigrants before crossing into the United States, in northern Mexico on May 18, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

In other words, these illegal migrants can’t go from Guatemala or to Haiti to America via Mexico, for example, and then legitimately claim asylum in the U.S., Mr. Gorka said.
But under Biden-era policies, since Title 42 expired on May 11 “every single person who pre-clears themself on the DHS app and comes to the border gets waved in by CBP,” he said.
Mr. Trump announced in mid-September his plans to carry out “the largest domestic deportation operation in American history” if he is elected in 2024 to a second term as president. He also vowed in his speech at the Pray Vote Stand Summit in Washington on Sept. 15 to bring back Title 42 to “end the child trafficking crisis by returning all trafficked children to their families in their home countries.”
Mr. Gorka called for the re-implementation of Trump-era polices such as the Remain in Mexico program.
Migrants prepare to cross the Tijuana River from Mexico toward the United States on May 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Migrants prepare to cross the Tijuana River from Mexico toward the United States on May 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“Reinstate everything that Biden shut down. Flick the switch from off to on, and then you start deporting everybody who came in illegally,” Mr. Gorka said. “We keep building the wall. And we do exactly what we did during the Trump administration.”
And, if another pandemic arises, he said, Title 42, should be re-instated then, if not before.
“Who knows if there’s going to be COVID-24? We have to have Title 42. We basically zeroed down to nothing illegal immigration with Title 42,” he said.

Humanitarian Crisis

Meanwhile, in San Diego on Oct. 31, two Epoch Times reporters captured on video a group of military-age men exiting a luxury van marked for wine tours at an illegal migrant staging area operating at the former site of Central Elementary School in the City Heights neighborhood.
At the closed school, the illegal migrant staging area run by South Bay Community Services (SBCS), a non-governmental agency, or NGO, helps facilitate what has been called by critics an illegal immigration industrial complex.
Languages heard at the SBCS-run facility included Arabic, French, and Spanish, as two Muslim men with mats faced Mecca and prayed.
A SBCS worker, who said her name was Valerie, would not comment on the operation at the school and asked the Epoch Times reporters to leave the site immediately.
About 300 migrants, mostly young men, were recently transported to the center to be released and flown to cities and towns across the U.S. on a “notice to appear” for immigration hearings, said Manny Bayon, a National Border Patrol Council union spokesman in San Diego.
But because immigration courts are backlogged for years, and nine out of 10 illegal immigrants don’t show up for their immigration hearings, the Border Patrol agents unofficially call them “notices to disappear,” he said.
Near Jacumba Hot Springs, Calif., the same day, dozens of illegal migrants, including women and children, were dropped off by human smugglers called “coyotes” working for Mexican drug cartels and entered the U.S. through a gap in the border wall. They were told to stay at an encampment of makeshift shelters and tents until they could be transported to a U.S. Border Patrol processing facility in Otay Mesa, Calif.
A Guatemalan mother and her daughter stand near their tent in Jacumba, Calif., on Oct. 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A Guatemalan mother and her daughter stand near their tent in Jacumba, Calif., on Oct. 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A makeshift migrant encampment sits next to the U.S.-Mexico border in Jacumba, Calif., on Oct. 31, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

A makeshift migrant encampment sits next to the U.S.-Mexico border in Jacumba, Calif., on Oct. 31, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Tens of thousands of illegal migrants—currently about 400 to 500 a day—have been released into San Diego under the Biden administration, according to authorities. The influx has overwhelmed NGOs such as Catholic Charities, which are funded by the government to house immigrants at hotels closed to the public and provide them with basic necessities including food and clothing.
In September, when more than 7,800 illegal migrants were dropped off at transit stations in San Diego in less than a two-week span, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously declared a “humanitarian crisis” at the southern border.
Supervisor Jim Desmond said the Sept. 26 declaration was a direct response to the federal government’s failure to provide enough resources to manage the inflow of asylum-seekers.

Failing Policies

Ric Grenell, former acting director of National Intelligence in the Trump administration and a Southern California resident, also blamed the Biden administration for the border crisis.
“Democrats have opened the US border and terrorists are coming right in,” he told The Epoch Times via text message on Nov. 6. “This is a crisis that most of the media is ignoring.”
Tom Homan, who served as acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during the Trump administration, told The Epoch Times on Nov. 7 that the Biden administration hasn’t done anything to slow the flow of illegal aliens crossing the southern border illegally, which, he argued, is itself “a crime.”
While ICE detention is much cheaper and results in quick immigration court hearings, the Biden administration knows the “vast majority” of illegal migrants will lose their cases based on a decade of immigration court data and will be deported, Mr. Homan said via text message.
Unvetted immigrants prepare to be transported by bus to processing facilities in Yuma, Ariz., on May 18, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Unvetted immigrants prepare to be transported by bus to processing facilities in Yuma, Ariz., on May 18, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Based on data in Homeland Security Lifecycle Reports, if illegal migrants aren’t detained, very few leave as ordered, he said.
“That is the real reason why this administration wants catch and release: More come, very few leave,” he said. “This catch-and-release policy not only awards NGOs millions and sometimes billions of taxpayer dollars, but it acts as an enticement for more illegal crossings because they know they will not be detained or face consequences.”
Mr. Homan has said throughout the recent border crisis that it is “by design.”
On Oct. 31, U.S. Border Patrol data showed 17,312 illegal migrants were in custody nationwide, more than 6,000 of whom were released that morning after being detained for 72 hours.
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Brad Jones

Brad Jones

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Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.

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