In a recent tweet, Biden said that we are in a “time of war and global peril.” It is then only prudent to ensure that adversaries cannot harm Americans at home—the 9/11 Commission was clear that border security is national security
As outlined recently by the Heritage Foundation, over the past eighteen months, the Department of Homeland Security has caught 756,000 aliens from 156 countries at the southern border and released them in the United States. Over the same period, 620,000 others “got away” into the United States.
Furthermore, Customs and Border Patrol reports that over the past eighteen months it has arrested forty-two subjects who were on the terror watchlist and attempted to enter the United States illegally. Based on the catch-and-release and got-away numbers above, it is reasonable to conclude that many others on the terror watchlist avoided arrest and succeeded in entering the United States.
The southwestern border is an obvious national security vulnerability that could be exploited by our adversaries, and it requires decisive policies to address it.
Times of heightened geostrategic risk help clarify political imperatives. China and Russia, powerful, aggressive, and expansionist dictatorships, are on the march. And terrorists also remain undaunted in seeking to kill Americans. As nations around the world make big changes to their security and economic posture to respond to geostrategic threats, the Biden administration should consider its own bold policy changes.
Dan Negrea is the Senior Director of the Atlantic Council’s Freedom and Prosperity Center. He served between 2018 and 2021 as the State Department’s Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, and as a member of the Secretary’s Policy Planning Office.