Speaker Johnson Says 16 Million Illegal Immigrants Entered America Under Biden’s Watch
Speaker Johnson Says 16 Million Illegal Immigrants Entered America Under Biden’s Watch

By Tom Ozimek

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said Wednesday that official figures of around 9 million grossly underestimate the number of illegal immigrants who have entered the United States since President Joe Biden took office, and that he believes the true number is closer to 16 million.

Mr. Johnson made the remarks while speaking at a press conference on Capitol Hill on April 10, during which he announced plans for a vote later in the day on a resolution condemning the Biden administration’s “open border” policies.

“Since Joe Biden went into the Oval Office, it began on day one, they began to open that border wide,” the speaker said.

He noted that the Biden administration had taken over 60 specific executive actions and agency actions to “open the border wide and send the welcome message to everybody around the globe, including violent criminals and terrorists and foreign nationals … coming here to do us harm.”

Republicans, who blame President Biden’s policies for record numbers of illegal immigrants pouring into the country, have repeatedly raised concerns about the associated national security threat.

In October 2023, a group of Republican senators sounded the alarm after Border Patrol agents caught illegal border crossers carrying explosives that Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said were “tailor-made for terrorism.”

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data show that there has been more than a 3,000 percent increase (comparing former President Donald Trump’s term and that of President Joe Biden’s so far) in the number of people on the FBI’s terror watchlist caught trying to enter the country illegally.

Mr. Johnson said at Wednesday’s presser that official numbers put the number of illegal immigrants at around 9 million but added that “we all know and I think intuitively we understand that the number is much, much higher than that.”

The official number of gotaways—people who evaded capture while crossing the border illegally—is around 3 million, he said, before providing what he believes is the true illegal immigration toll.

“I think the number is probably somewhere close to 16 million people by now that have gotten into this country illegally,” he said. “Where are they? What are they plotting?”

“We would suspect that there are terrorist cells set up now,” he continued, noting that there have been over 340 people caught trying to cross the border illegally who were suspected terrorists on the FBI’s terror watchlist.

CBP data show that, so far this fiscal year, border patrol agents have encountered 140 individuals on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist trying to enter the United States, with 70 of them caught trying to enter illegally between ports of entry.

During the four years of the Trump presidency, the total number of people on the terrorist watchlist caught trying to enter the country illegally between ports of entry amounted to 11.

By contrast, so far under President Biden, that number is 351. That represents a whopping 3,091 percent increase compared to former President Donald Trump’s term.

“This is a disastrous situation,” Mr. Johnson said. “It’s a catastrophe that was caused by intentional policy choices.”

Mr. Johnson added that it’s unknown how many people on the terror watchlist managed to enter the country undetected and may be lurking in communities across the country.

Terror-Listed Illegal Immigrants

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who’s facing an impeachment trial in the Senate, was recently called on to explain the circumstances of inadmissible aliens on the terrorist watchlist being released into the United States rather than being held in custody until deportation.

A group of House Homeland Security Committee Republicans expressed concern in an April 3 letter to Mr. Mayorkas about unanswered questions regarding the DHS’s current practices in processing and releasing known or suspected terrorists into the United States.

“We are now facing a consistent stream of cases highlighted in the news of aliens allegedly on the terrorists watchlist either being apprehended at the border or discovered in the interior,” they wrote.

They demanded information from Mr. Mayorkas on the number of aliens released into the United States who were on the terrorist watchlist since January 2021, the month President Biden took office.

A DHS spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that it would respond to the letter through official channels while insisting that the agency and its intelligence, counterterrorism, and law enforcement partners screen and vet individuals prior to their entry into the United States to prevent those who pose a terror threat from coming in.

The GOP lawmakers expressed concern about whether the Biden administration’s “catch-and-release” program was resulting in more people on the terror watchlist entering U.S. communities.

Under the Biden administration’s “catch-and-release” program, illegal immigrants are released into U.S. communities to await asylum hearings.

Mr. Mayorkas recently admitted that over 70 percent of illegal immigrants are being released after an initial arrest.

Texas National Guard agents prevent illegal immigrants from Venezuela from crossing a barbed wire fence tat the El Paso Sector Border after crossing the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, on Feb. 29, 2024. (Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images)

A report from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for fiscal year 2023 showed a staggering rise over the past few years in the number of illegal immigrants on the non-detained docket, meaning released into communities to await hearings.

This number has soared from 4.7 million in 2022 to 6.2 million in 2023—a jump of over 30 percent.

By comparison, the number of illegal immigrants on the non-detained rolls was 3.26 million in 2020 and 3.6 million in 2021.

In response to the border crisis and associated national security threat, Republicans have called for measures such as ending the “catch-and-release” policy, expanding expedited removals, renewing border wall construction, and reinstating the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy.

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