While the Obama administration denies the porous United States border with Mexico presents a national security risk, internal DHS documents viewed by TheBlaze and dozens of interviews with federal law enforcement officials tell a different story -- especially when it comes to who, exactly, is sneaking into the U.S.
A fallen barbed wire fence is the only barrier between Mexico and the United States as illegal migrants cross near the town of Sasabe, state of Sonora, Mexico in this file photo taken Thursday, April 1, 2004. U.S. Border Patrol officials are seeing a significant increase in the number of illegal immigrants being smuggled through what's known as the Sasabe corridor southwest of Tucson. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias, File) Original Filename: BUSY_CORRIDOR_LA501.jpg
According to the interviews and the internal Department of Homeland Security documents -- classified as For Official Office Use Only [FOUO] -- viewed by TheBlaze, "Other Than Mexicans," or OTMs (the commonly used acronym for people crossing illegally into the United States that are not Mexicans), are skyrocketing.
Here's what we know:
- OTMs have increased a whopping 71.9 percent in Fiscal Year 2014, as compared to 2013, according to the DHS documents.
- The documents classified 150,000 to 170,000 illegal alien OTMs were "Got-Aways," in Fiscal Year 2014. In other words, these persons are believed to be in the U.S. living without documentation and successfully bi-passed all security measures along the border.
- 475,000 people were apprehended in Fiscal Year 2014, of that 253,159 were OTMs.
- Federal law enforcement made an average of 441 OTM apprehensions a day.
- Monthly, the OTM apprehensions were roughly 6,390.
Some of the OTM Apprehensions on the border are noted under a section “Nations and Special Interest Aliens - Fiscal Year 2014.” Special Interest Nations, such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are those designated by the U.S. Department of State as sponsors of terror:
- *Iraq - 6
- *Syria- 13
- *China- 1,668
- *Albania- 305
- *Sierra Leone- 3
These numbers are tightly guarded by the DHS. In fact, when this reporter asked for the same statistics from Immigration and Customs Enforcement several years ago, I was told that they do not keep public records of the information and told to call the United States Citizenship and Immigration office. Officials with USCIS also stated that they would not be able to share that information.
"Of course those numbers exist," a DHS Official, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal, told TheBlaze. "There is no reason for these numbers to be classified. The administration doesn't want the truth out because they don't want anyone to know how really dangerous the situation is -- we know people from all over the world use the border to enter the U.S. illegally and without detention."
"It's not just about Mexican's and Central Americans but people from countries of special interest have been captured, detained and sometimes released back into the country," the official added. "Many times they just make their way in and we have no idea."
The danger that the southern border would be used by terrorists became more pronounced this week when House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Duncan Hunter announced on Fox News that possibly 10 members of the Islamic State were taken into custody by federal officials at the southern border. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, stood by his word that persons associated with designated terrorist organizations had crossed the border, telling CBS News that the four Turkish men apprehended last year in September were members of a State Department designated terrorist organization.
Hunter sent a letter Friday to Mexican Ambassador to the United States Medina Mora saying that he was alarmed by the number of people from around the world that use Mexico to enter the United States.
He told Mora that the information revealed in the DHS documents proves that illegal entry into the United States is "facilitated through Mexico." He asked if he could meet Mora in person.
Within hours, DHS was working to respond to the accusation by the lawmakers. Spokesman Marsha Catron issued a statement rebutting Hunter and Chaffetz, claiming that that the information they had was inaccurate.
"The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground," DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron said in a statement. "DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border."
You can Follow Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) on Twitter.
This story has been updated with an additional statistic.