(NationalSecurity.news) In what is likely to further inflame the national debate over immigration laws during an already heated presidential election which features one candidate who wants to dramatically boost border security, reports last week noted that an Afghan national with terrorism in mind was caught at the U.S-Mexico border last fall as he was being smuggled into the country.
As reported by Fox News and the Washington Times, the Afghan national was involved with a smuggling network that has managed to infiltrate illegal immigrants from the Middle East’s terrorism hotbeds straight to the United States’ doorstep.
First reported by the Times, immigration officials acknowledged that at least a dozen Middle Eastern men have been smuggled into the Western Hemisphere by a network based in Brazil that connected them with Mexican human smuggling rings, who eventually led them to the U.S. border.
Those who were smuggled include Pakistanis, Palestinians and the Afghan man who Department of Homeland Security officials said had family ties to the Taliban and was “involved in a plot to conduct an attack in the U.S. and/or Canada.” Though he is currently in custody, the Times withheld his name at the request of federal law enforcement officials.
Some of those handled by the smuggling network were caught before they reached the U.S. but others have made it into at least the U.S. The Afghan was part of a group of six from “special-interest countries,” the Times noted.
Fox News reported further:
The Afghan national’s alleged terror ties were not initially flagged in a terror database – and as a result, not initially reported – when the incident first came to light last November, according to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who obtained Homeland Security documents on the incident. It was only later that U.S. officials discovered his associations.
Hunter told Fox News on Friday that the database disconnect represents a “monumental failure.”
“We don’t know who’s coming into the U.S. and what they’re bringing with them,” he said. “It is as bad as it seems.”
The Times noted that the group of six was led by a pair of Mexican nationals employed by the network who crawled under the border fence in Arizona late last year and got as far as 15 miles inside the U.S. before they were detected by border surveillance, according to documents Hunter has seen.
“It’s disturbing, in so many ways,” said Joe Kasper, Hunter’s chief of staff, the Times reported. “The interdiction of this group … validates once again that the southern border is wide open to more than people looking to enter the U.S. illegally strictly for purposes of looking for work, as the administration wants us to believe.
“What’s worse, federal databases weren’t even synced and Border Patrol had no idea who they were arresting and the group was not considered a problem because none of them were considered a priority under the president’s enforcement protocol,” he added. “That’s a major problem on its own, and it calls for DHS to figure out the problem — and fast.”
While this one group was apprehended, Hunter said it is safe to “assume that others have gotten in.”
“The American people would have had no clue on this if we didn’t get these documents from Homeland Security,” Hunter said.