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Northern border continues to outpace southwest border on terrorist-connected apprehensions

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Not only has the number of known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) apprehended at the U.S. borders in fiscal 2023 the greatest number recorded in U.S. history, but those coming in via the northern border are outpacing numbers at the southern border. The Center Square first reported there were 736 known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) apprehended at the northern and southwest borders, with a significant majority – 66% – apprehended at the northern border, 487. By comparison, 249 were apprehended at the southwest border.

Unfortunately, the trend has continued on in fiscal 2024, with KST northern border apprehensions outpacing those at the southwest border by a similar margin. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, last updated on January 26, there have been 144 KSTs apprehended this fiscal year to date.

The majority, 90, were apprehended at the northern border, nearly all at northern border ports of entry. The Center Square notes KSTs are primarily apprehended two different ways by two different federal agents. They are apprehended by Office of Field Operations (OFO) agents working at land ports of entry and by Border Patrol agents working between ports of entry.

At the northern border, the majority of KSTs are apprehended at northern border ports of entry, at the southwest border, the majority are apprehended between ports of entry, according to CBP data.

The Terrorist Screening Dataset is the federal database that contains sensitive information on terrorist identities, CBP said. It originated as a consolidated terrorist watchlist “to house information on known or suspected terrorists but evolved over the last decade to include additional individuals who represent a potential threat to the United States, including known affiliates of watchlisted individuals.”

By comparison, OFO and Border Patrol agents combined apprehended a total of 478 KSTs in fiscal 2022, 173 in fiscal 2021, 199 in fiscal 2020, 541 in fiscal 2019, 357 in fiscal 2018, and 353 in fiscal 2017.

The higher number of northern border KST apprehensions continues as agents working in the busiest northern border CBP sector apprehended more illegal border crossers in fiscal 2023 than they had in the previous 11 years combined.

Swanton Sector Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 6,700 foreign nationals from 76 countries attempting to enter the U.S. illegally from Canada, a 550% increase in apprehensions from fiscal 2022. The sector spans 295 miles of border in northeastern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire.

The U.S.-Canada border is the longest international border in the world of 5,525 miles. Unlike the U.S.-Mexico border, there are no border walls or similar barriers separating the U.S. from Canada. Most of the northern border is demarcated by rivers, lakes, mountains, ravines and forests. While many miles of the remote northern border remain unpatrolled due to a number of factors, agents at ports of entry consistently apprehend the most KSTs.

KST apprehensions there continue to increase after U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, sounded the alarm last fall, saying, “It is painfully clear that with Joe Biden’s open border policies, our country is really at an increased threat for a terrorist attack.”

Barrasso did so on the same day FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate about terrorist threats facing Americans. Wray said the FBI was conducting multiple investigations into Hamas-related threats in the U.S. after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

He also expressed concern about “The world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, the Iranians, for instance, have directly, or by hiring criminals, mounted assassination attempts against dissidents and high-ranking current and former U.S. government officials, including right here on American soil.”

More than a month after he spoke, northern border agents apprehended an Iranian with terrorist ties. Retired FBI officials also warned Congress last week that a terrorist attack was likely imminent and preventable.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., who posted a copy of their letter on X, said it “describes the chilling reality of why the president’s open border is a clear and present danger to America.”

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education

Report: Denver area migrants cost $340 million to shelter, educate

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A report by the free-market Common Sense Institute found the more than 42,000 migrants who have arrived in Denver over the last year and a half have cost the region as much as $340 million. The city of Denver, local school districts, and the region’s health-care system have spent between $216 million and $340 million combined to shelter, feed, clothe, and educate the migrants, and to provide them with emergency medical care.

National Review explains the report builds off a previous report from March that conservatively found that the migrants had cost the region at least $170 million. “Costs are never localized,” said DJ Summers, the institute’s research director. “They expand outward.”

Democratic leaders are being blamed for their welcoming posture toward immigrants generally, and their sanctuary-city policies, which curtail law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration agents. Since late December 2022, at least 42,269 migrants — or “newcomers” as Denver leaders call them — have arrived in the city, adds National Review.

The Common Sense Institute report found that the migrant crisis has also hit local emergency rooms hard with extensive expenses. Since December 2022, migrants have made more than 16,000 visits to metro emergency departments. At an estimated cost of about $3,000 per visit, that has resulted in nearly $48 million in uncompensated care.

Summers said those costs are “stressing existing health care organizations,” but they also indirectly hit residents in their pocketbooks through increased insurance prices.

Metro school districts have endured the biggest financial hit — estimated between $98 million and $222 million — according to the Common Sense Institute report. The large range in costs is due to the difficulties researchers had identifying exactly how many new foreign students are tied to the migrant crisis.

The researchers found that since December 2022, 15,725 foreign students have enrolled in local schools. Of those, 6,929 have come from the five countries most closely identified with the migrant crisis — Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

On average, it costs a little over $14,000 to educate a student for a year in a Denver-area public school, but Summers said migrant students likely cost more.

“They have transportation needs that are different, they have acculturation needs that are going to be different, language assistance needs that are going to be different,” he said. “Many of them might need to get up to speed in curriculum. They might need outside tutoring.”

Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers approved $24 million in state funding to help school districts statewide plug budget holes related to the migrant students.

Summers said the updated Common Sense Institute tally is likely still missing some costs related to the ongoing migrant crisis.

“There are definitely additional costs. We just don’t have a great way to measure them just yet,” he said, noting legal fees, crime, and unreported business and nonprofit expenses.

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