FIRST ON FOX: Senate Republicans are demanding the Biden administration show Congress a plan by next week to crack down on national security threats at the southern border after a record number of people on the FBI’s terror watch list were arrested by border officials last month.
A letter led by Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and signed by 10 more GOP senators pointed to the ongoing war between Israel and terror group Hamas in “the importance of vigilance against global terrorist groups both internationally and domestically.”
The message, addressed to President Biden himself, requested that he “provide Members of Congress a senior-level classified briefing” on his “plan and intentions to support the security of the homeland.” The senators are asking for the briefing to be held no later than Nov. 8.
“As President of the United States, we expect you to take every necessary step to ensure the protection of the homeland and to both prioritize and resource this task accordingly,” the senators wrote. “However, the nature of the foreign challenge, combined with vulnerabilities at home — starting at our Southern border — warrant a proactive and comprehensive assessment.”
Specifically, they are asking Biden officials to lay out what, if any, changes have been made in detection of “threats to the homeland” given Hamas’s attacks on Israel and “the possibility that Hamas or other regional terrorist organizations may seek to expand the conflict and incite further violence against the United States.”
The senators also want to know how proactive Biden officials are being in upping security at the southern border.
Border officials arrested 18 people on the FBI’s terror watch list in September, according to numbers released earlier this month, making fiscal year 2023 a historic high for such encounters at the southern border.
In addition to those crossing the border, lawmakers want to see a plan for addressing “the possibility of hundreds of thousands of individuals having entered the country undetected in the past two years,” whose threat-levels have not been assessed.
They also asked to identify the level of international cooperation in cracking down on terror organizations, among other points.
“Hamas’ devastating attack, combined with its ties to entities such as the Iranian government and Hezbollah, underscores the necessity for a comprehensive assessment of its potential to reach targets beyond the immediate region,” the senators wrote.
“International terrorist organizations likely recognize that their effectiveness is increased by inspiring individuals already within our borders as opposed to breaching them.”
It comes after a Customs and Border Patrol memo warned last week that people “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.”
In addition to that, the letter cited Hamas leaders calling for a “day of rage” around the world and warnings from FBI Director Chris Wray about the heightened risk of “lone actors who may take inspiration from recent events to commit violence of their own.”
“The consequences of lapses in security can be catastrophic. We must be proactive and not wait for tragedy to strike before taking decisive action,” the letter warned. “We stand ready to support any measures and initiatives that prioritize the safety and well-being of our nation and its citizens.”