EAGLE PASS, Texas — According to a source within CBP, eleven “Special Interest Aliens” from Middle Eastern nations were encountered in less than one week in the Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector. During the week of October 8 to October 14, Border Patrol agents apprehended six Iranian nationals, three Lebanese nationals, one Egyptian national, and one Saudi Arabian national that made landfall in Texas on the banks of the Rio Grande.
The source, not authorized to speak to the media, told Breitbart Texas migrants were single adult males considered Special Interest Aliens who arrived from countries subject to travel warnings by the U.S. State Department due to terrorism. The source says, absent any significant intelligence indicting the migrants pose a known threat to the United States, they will be released into the U.S. to pursue asylum claims.
The source says the continued encounter of Special Interest migrants as tensions rise in the Middle East due to the recent Hamas attacks in Israel is alarming. “Things are developing so quickly in that region and migrants from that area continuing to arrive at the southern border presents an intelligence challenge for us,” the source told Breitbart Texas.
According to the source, if the migrants are not “Known or Suspected Terrorists” (KSA) based on a listing maintained by the FBI at the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), the lack of diplomatic relations with some of the special interest countries makes the return of the migrants difficult if not impossible.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, more than 61,000 Special Interest Aliens were encountered by the Border Patrol in fiscal year 2023, which ended on September 30. The number of migrants from Special Interest countries has climbed by more than 140 percent from fiscal year 2022 when more than 25,500 were apprehended. In all, more than 86,000 Special Interest Aliens have illegally entered the United States during the previous two years.
According to a 2019 DHS fact sheet, the term “Special Interest Alien” is defined as follows:
Generally, an SIA is a non-U.S. person who, based on an analysis of travel patterns, potentially poses a national security risk to the United States or its interests. Often such individuals or groups are employing travel patterns known or evaluated to possibly have a nexus to terrorism. DHS analysis includes an examination of travel patterns, points of origin, and/or travel segments that are tied to current assessments of national and international threat environments.
This does not mean that all SIAs are “terrorists,” but rather that the travel and behavior of such individuals indicate a possible nexus to nefarious activity (including terrorism) and, at a minimum, provide indicators that necessitate heightened screening and further investigation. The term SIA does not indicate any specific derogatory information about the individual – and DHS has never indicated that the SIA designation means more than that.
According to the source, in fiscal year 2023, migrants from more than 280 countries were apprehended by the Border Patrol, including those from 34 countries listed as Special Interest countries. Among the remainder of Special Interest Aliens entering the United States during fiscal year 2023 were more than 5,600 Afghans, 3,000 Egyptians, nearly 2,500 Somalis, 2,500 citizens of Bangladesh, nearly 1,300 Pakistanis, 1,200 Eritreans, and almost 1,000 nationals of Tajikistan and Kazakstan.
Nearly 1,700 SIAs in fewer numbers from Iran, Syria, Morrocco, Jordan, Djibouti, Iraq, Yemen, Turkmenistan, Algeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates also made entry into the United States.
The SIAs enter in small numbers daily at almost all parts of the southwest border. As reported by Breitbart Texas, larger numbers of migrants from outside the hemisphere, including those from Special Interest countries, are more frequently encountered in Arizona.
During one recent trip to the border region near Lukeville, Arizona, Breitbart Texas observed more than 300 migrants surrender to awaiting Border Patrol agents from a multitude of non-Spanish speaking countries. The migrant group included citizens from mostly western African nations, the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and China.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.