The agency's 2024 Homeland Threat Assessment report, released this week, highlighted the ongoing issue.
The report stated, "[a]lthough encounters with migrants have declined from record highs in December, migrants seeking entry to the United States are still arriving at a rate that is on pace to nearly match 2022 total encounters." The document further revealed an alarming increase in the number of individuals on the Terrorist Screening Data Set (TSDS), commonly referred to as the 'watchlist.'
According to the DHS, approximately 160 non-U.S. persons on the watchlist have attempted to infiltrate the United States via the southern border this year. Most of these attempts were made illegally between ports of entry. This figure represents a significant increase from the roughly 100 encounters of this nature throughout the fiscal year 2022. The report clarified that the terror watchlist includes individuals ranging from known associates of watchlisted individuals to those directly involved in terrorist activities.
The DHS also expressed concern about the persistent threat of violence from individuals radicalized within the United States. The report stated, "During the next year, we assess that the threat of violence from individuals radicalized in the United States will remain high, but largely unchanged, marked by lone offenders or small group attacks that occur with little warning." The report also warned of foreign terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS, which are seeking to rebuild overseas and maintain worldwide networks of supporters that could target the Homeland.
Despite the ongoing threat of terrorism, the DHS report indicated that illegal drugs produced in Mexico and sold in the U.S. are likely to continue causing more American deaths. The report noted, "During the past year, U.S.-based traffickers have become more involved in the mixing and pressing of fentanyl, contributing to more lethal mixes of this already deadly drug."
In a statement, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas emphasized the importance of the Homeland Threat Assessment report, stating that it would "enable our partners across state, local, tribal, and territorial government, along with the private and non-profit sectors, to make better-informed decisions that account for these security challenges."