OTMs Swarm Border; Intentions Unknown

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

August 12, 2016

In border patrol agents’ parlance, illegal aliens entering from nations other than Mexico are simply referred to as OTMs or SIAs, special interest aliens. The most recent U.S. Border Patrol data showed that while more Mexicans are apprehended at the Southwest border than any other nationality – 49.6 percent of the 264,185 caught – OTMs are willing to travel much longer distances.

Overwhelmed Border Patrol catching some OTMs,
but others are making it across.

The top ten countries represented among the would-be aliens are 2,867 Indians, 1,498 Chinese and 1,037 Romanians. More alarming are those not in the top ten: Pakistan, 155; Turkey, 53; Afghanistan, 14; Nigeria, 13; Russia, 9; Saudi Arabia, 8 and Iran, 6. Remember: those are the total apprehended. No one knows how many OTMs/SIAs escaped capture.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on. For example, the distance from Lahore, Pakistan, to a Mexican border city near San Diego, California, is about 8,000 miles, the cost to make the trip in the thousands of dollars, and the logistics complicated. A more compelling reason to make such a long, costly journey might be to engage in terrorism rather than to be reunited with family.

For nearly five years, security experts have set off alarm bells that terrorists are taking advantage of porous borders and nonexistent internal enforcement to gain easy entry into the U.S. While airport screening has kept out terrorists, the border is open to ISIS or others that have sworn to destroy America. Said retired Army Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters: “The one thing that all of the squabbling jihadi groups in the Middle East and North Africa have in common is that they want to strike the U.S., both for what they view as vengeance and because, in terrorist circles, striking the U.S. is how you confirm that you’re a major player.”

If the FBI is worried about the inevitability of more domestic terrorism like San Bernardino and Orlando, the White House should be too. Applying the risk-reward ratio, the U.S. loses nothing if it tightens the border and strengthens internal enforcement, but risks deadly consequences if it ignores the Border Patrol statistics.

AS FBI Director James Comey told a Senate panel, the American homeland is at greater peril of a terrorist attack than at any time since 9/11.
 

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