FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed concern over the increasing number of illegal immigrants evading Border Patrol and entering the U.S., highlighting the challenges faced by the agency. Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Wray acknowledged the “great concern” regarding the so-called “gotaways,” individuals who successfully evade Border Patrol. The number of gotaways has surpassed 600,000 in fiscal year 2023, with over 47,000 reported since the beginning of October.
"Can the FBI guarantee the American people that known or suspected terrorists…are not amongst those [border] 'gotaways'?"
FBI Director Chris Wray: "Certainly, the group of people that you're talking about are a source of great concern for us" pic.twitter.com/U8lua8lzFw
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) November 15, 2023
Chairman Mark Green raised questions about potential national security threats, asking if the FBI could guarantee that known or suspected terrorists, including those from groups like Hamas, are not among the gotaways. Wray emphasized the FBI’s use of joint terrorism task forces to address these concerns, stating that any group of individuals in the U.S. with limited information is a source of worry.
Wray noted an increase in known or suspected terrorists attempting to cross the border in the last five years, with record numbers encountered in fiscal year 2023. While unable to explain the specific reasons for the surge, he emphasized that threats from the border are consuming all 56 FBI field offices, not just those in border states.
MTG gives Chris Wray a piece of her mind:
"I would hope to God that Antifa and terrorists in our very country would be something that you would prioritize instead of a three hour event that happened at our Capitol nearly four years ago." pic.twitter.com/YsaFuDWuWC
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) November 15, 2023
The testimony comes amid broader concerns about potential terrorist exploitation of the border, particularly as Border Patrol deals with record illegal immigrant numbers. The U.S. saw over 249,000 encounters in October alone, leading to renewed calls for immigration reform. Republicans, including Chairman Green, have emphasized the security risks associated with the current border situation, with concerns heightened following the Hamas terror attack on Israel.
The Department of Homeland Security’s FY 2024 threat assessment warns of an elevated risk, acknowledging the potential for terrorists and criminal actors to exploit the complex security environment. While encounters with known or suspected terrorists are rare, the agency asserts its commitment to screening, vetting, and preventing individuals posing threats from entering the country.