Officials in California’s San Diego County are calling for the closure of the southern border, amid heightened terror concerns and a recent memo warning of the potential for terrorist fighters to attempt to enter the U.S..
“It’s time to close the border to new immigration,” San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond said during a recent press conference.
Desmond spoke alongside El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and other local Republicans who backed calls for increased border restrictions.
He cited directly a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) memo issued last week, a copy of which was obtained by Fox News, which warned 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.”
“Foreign fighters motivated by ideology or mercenary soldiers of fortune may attempt to obfuscate travel to or from the U.S. to or from countries in the Middle East through Mexico,” the memo, issued by the agency’s San Diego Field Office’s intelligence unit, said.
The memo, first reported by the Daily Caller, specifically mentions Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hezbollah.
It warns of possible indicators, including military-age males, the possession of military gear, single travelers, an undetermined return plan and an association with the region.
A CBP spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the agency “has seen no indication of Hamas-directed foreign fighters seeking to make entry into the United States.”
“It is the policy of CBP to neither confirm nor speak to potentially improperly disclosed information or internal documents marked as law enforcement sensitive or for official use only,” the spokesperson said. “In general, CBP provides frontline personnel a wide range of context for situational awareness in order to ensure they remain vigilant in fulfillment of our homeland and border security missions. Situational awareness briefs are not threat assessments.”
The memo has tapped into continued concerns about possible terrorist infiltration at the border. Lawmakers have cited the record number of encounters of people on the terror watch list. Statistics show that there were 169 encounters by Border Patrol in FY 23.
“Given these statistics and the national security issues going on out there with the war in the Middle East and with terrorists wanting to kill not only people in the Middle East but also here in the United States we don’t want to have open and porous borders.” Desmond said.
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) FY 24 threat assessment has also warned that agents have encountered a growing number on the watch list and warned that “terrorists and criminal actors may exploit the elevated flow and increasingly complex security environment to enter the United States.”
“Individuals with terrorism connections are interested in using established travel routes and permissive environments to facilitate access to the United States,” the assessment also said.
DHS has called for more funding from Congress, including a recent $14 billion supplemental request, while also urging Republicans to pass immigration reform legislation. But Republicans have blamed the record numbers of migrants seen at the border on the administration’s policies and, like in San Diego, have called on the administration to tighten who is allowed to enter the U.S.
“Let’s stop the border, shut it down, make a reset and make sure we only process and allow people in we can manage and not overwhelm the cities and our communities like we’re doing right now,” Desmond said.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.