Chief of U.S. Border Patrol labels southern border as a “national security risk,” pointing out 140,000 migrants who avoided apprehension

In an exclusive interview with CBS News, U.S. Border Patrol chief Jason Owens expressed concern about the situation at the southern border, labeling it a “national security threat.” Owens highlighted the issue of tens of thousands of migrants who have entered the country evasively over the past five months, with Border Patrol on track to record one million apprehensions in the current fiscal year. He emphasized the dangers posed by the 140,000 “known got-aways” who evade apprehension and questioned their motives and intentions, which represent a threat to communities.

Owens emphasized the importance of border security as a key component of national security, highlighting the risk posed by not knowing who is entering the country and their intentions. While acknowledging that most migrants coming to the U.S. border are well-intentioned, he pointed out that some apprehended individuals include serious criminals such as gang members or sexual offenders, while the majority are fleeing poverty or violence in their home countries. Owens called for tougher immigration policies to discourage illegal border crossings and ensure the safety and security of communities.

Statistical data from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) show that only a small fraction of migrants processed by Border Patrol have criminal records, and studies suggest that migrants in the U.S. illegally do not have higher crime rates than native-born Americans. However, top law enforcement officials like FBI director Christopher Wray have expressed concerns about potential criminals and terrorists exploiting the high levels of migration at the southern border in recent years. Owens attributed the surge in people entering the U.S. to the influence of cartels, who he said were setting the rules of engagement at the border.

Jason Owens, who assumed the role of Border Patrol chief in June 2023, after more than 25 years in the agency, called for stronger immigration policies to reduce the influx of migrants. He advocated for consequences such as jail time, removal from the country, and bans on reentry for those who choose to enter illegally instead of using established lawful pathways. Owens stressed the need for decisive action to address the national security threat posed by unregulated migration, with a focus on deterring illegal entries and protecting communities.

The ongoing surge of migrants at the southern border has raised concerns about national security and the ability to control who enters the country. While the majority of migrants may be seeking a better life and fleeing dangerous conditions, the presence of criminal elements and potential terrorists among them poses a significant risk. Border Patrol chief Jason Owens is calling for stricter immigration policies to address these challenges and ensure the safety and security of American communities. Efforts to combat the influence of cartels and maintain control over the borders are critical in safeguarding national security interests and protecting the well-being of the country.