Op eds

This op-ed by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) first appeared in the New York Post on January 11, 2024.

I don’t know if cartel thugs or terrorists make New Year’s resolutions, but I have to imagine they’re struggling to dream up ways they could have a better year than they did exploiting President Biden’s broken border policies in 2023.

The Biden administration’s willful incompetence at the border not only created a human-rights disaster — it also provided the perfect cover for terrorist sympathizers, child-sex offenders and cartel associates to enter the United States illegally.

These terrorists will have an even better year if Congress doesn’t step up with real legislative solutions.

The numbers are horrifying.

Border Patrol apprehended 169 members of the FBI’s terrorist watch list attempting to cross the southern border illegally in fiscal year 2023 alone.

That’s more than 10 times as many potential terrorists as Border Patrol detained in the four years before Biden took office.

Individuals land on the FBI’s list by associating with groups that hate America, our values and our people.

These terrorist sympathizers may be evil, but they’re not stupid.

They know they can blend into the masses at the border unnoticed.  

Just months ago, for example, CNN reported someone who had worked as an “independent contractor” for ISIS helped smuggle more than a dozen people from Uzbekistan to the border.

Overwhelmed officials processed each migrant’s asylum claim without triggering any red flags and released the whole group into America to live among innocent citizens while they waited for their immigration court dates — a process that can take years.

The FBI only uncovered the ISIS ties after border officials discharged the group, setting off a mad search to find each of the ISIS affiliates.

Americans remember ISIS gleefully beheaded our citizens.

At least US officials know how to spot the men and women on the terrorist watch list.

We should be more concerned about the immigrants we know nothing about from countries with millions of people who hate us — a group known as “special-interest aliens.”

In the past two years, Border Patrol encountered 6,386 Afghans, 659 Iranians and 538 Syrians all trying to enter the country illegally.

It also apprehended more than 24,000 Chinese nationals in fiscal year 2023 alone — more than it caught in the last 10 years combined.

Some of these special-interest aliens may have good intentions of living the American dream, but we’d be fools to think men like Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wouldn’t exploit Biden’s catch-and-release playbook to diminish the American people’s strength and safety.

After all, Mexico’s cartels have been exploiting our open border to terrorize Americans for years.

The cartels kill tens of thousands of US citizens annually by working with China to flood our communities with fentanyl.

Beyond drugs, the cartels also rake in $13 billion per year running human-trafficking rings that steer unvetted migrants into America.

These migrant caravans are hotbeds of abuse.

Predators sexually assault an estimated four out of every five women.

Unsurprisingly then, many of the male migrants the cartels usher to the border are known sex offenders.

In just two months, Border Patrol agents in Texas caught 21 known child predators attempting to enter the country illegally.

Border Patrol apprehended 284 sex offenders in fiscal year 2023 alone. 

Cartel smuggling rings endanger countless lives.

In March, a cartel smuggler struck and killed a 71-year-old American grandmother and her 7-year-old granddaughter after he crashed his vehicle trying to evade law enforcement in Texas.

He also killed two of the 11 migrants he was smuggling in the back of his truck.

Everyone suffers while the cartels make billions.

That’s why I helped introduce the NARCOS Act to designate the Mexican drug cartels foreign terrorist organizations and allow US prosecutors to arrest those in charge.

As disturbing as it is, at least we know about the 169 terror watch-list suspects, 284 sex offenders and tens of thousands of special-interest aliens Border Patrol encountered along the southern border.

I’m far more worried about the terrorists, sex offenders and murderous cartel operatives who sneak into America unnoticed.

The Biden administration has made our southern border a magnet for terrorists and a cesspool of human suffering.

It’s both a national embarrassment and the biggest national-security threat our country faces, yet Biden continues to ignore the problem.

My fellow conservatives and I are doing all we can to bring Biden to the table.

Democrats must agree to enforce the law and provide Border Patrol and other law-enforcement organizations the tools they need to secure the border.

So far, Biden has denied the American people both.  

The president’s own FBI director recently warned that the southern border poses a major threat to homeland security.

He’s right, and I hope that admission is a sign Biden will start treating our border as the serious threat it is.