The current death toll in Israel from the terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad continues to rise to over 1,400, including over 30 Americans. To put this in perspective, accounting for population that would be the equivalent of more than 50,000 dead Americans here at home. While Israel pounds terrorist targets in Gaza and will later reckon with how their vaunted security apparatus missed such a large, coordinated assault, the lesson for America is simple: if such an attack can happen over there, it can happen right here in our homeland.
The potential seeds for a catastrophic attack on U.S. soil are rooted in the Biden Administration’s unyielding determination to open our borders to mass unchecked migration. For example, in just the month of August, the U.S. Border Patrol reported a record 304,162 illegal migrant encounters, breaking the previous record set in December 2022. That’s a population larger than Portland and Bangor combined and roughly equal to all of Cumberland County.
It is estimated that over the last three years, a record 1.7 million migrants entered the U.S. illegally without any contact with federal authorities, a population in excess of 11 U.S. states, including Maine. These so called “gotaways” are migrants from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Sudan, and many more. In short, we have no idea who these people are, where they are, or what they are doing. This is on top of the millions of other migrants the administration has knowingly released into the country, tens of thousands of which are designated by the Department of Homeland Security as “special interest aliens”, i.e., young adult males from nations with a history of terrorism.
Even more alarming, there has been a steep rise in the number of arrests at the border of migrants on the terrorist watch list. In federal fiscal year 2023, there were 151 apprehensions of such migrants, the largest number ever recorded, and 98 in 2022, (the previous record), compared to 15 in 2021, just three in 2020, and zero in 2019. Given the certainty the Border Protection does not encounter them all, the potential number of terrorist gotaways is the most alarming statistic of all.
On top of the broken border, after the debacle that was the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Biden Administration left $7 billion worth of military weapons and hardware behind to be used and sold by the Taliban. Of course, there are reports coming out of Israel that some of these weapons may have been used by Hamas. And one must not forget the Biden Administration just awarded, as part of a prisoner swap, $6 billion to the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, a country that likely played a role in the attack against Israel.
Meanwhile, as the Biden Administration funds and arms terrorist states, and the enforcement of U.S. immigration law collapses, the president has federal security agencies fixated on domestic violent extremists, a.k.a., MAGA Republicans, under the false pretense they represent an existential threat to democracy. No matter how hard the administration tries to bang away at this narrative, the fact remains that groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS, and their supporters remain the number one terrorism threat to our nation. Those groups have pledged to acquire and use nuclear weapons, and while that may be unlikely for now, they have a determination and patience we ignore at our peril.
Fixing these challenges will not be easy and time is our enemy. A few obvious steps include immediately halting the asylum process and later reinstating the remain in Mexico policy for all asylum seekers, ending the practice of catching and releasing illegal migrants into the country, finishing the border wall, further enlisting state and local law enforcement to secure the border and enforce immigration law in the interior, isolating Iran through stiff sanctions, and refocusing counter terrorism efforts on al-Qaeda, ISIS, and their ilk. Following that, Congress must reform immigration law to deter mass migration and fund border security and immigration enforcement operations at a level commensurate with the challenge. Even with all these actions and more, it is possible the seeds of the next catastrophic terrorist attack against our homeland have already been sown.
Joshua D. Filler is an attorney and homeland security consultant living in Falmouth. He served in the cabinet of the Mayor of New York on 9/11, as director of local affairs at the White House Office of Homeland Security from 2002 to 2003, and as director of the Office of State and Local Coordination at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005 where he oversaw the creation of Operation Stonegarden, a joint federal, state, and local border security program.