Congressman Pfluger on Venezuelan Prisoner Caravans Coming to U.S. Southern Border
Congressman August Pfluger, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Intelligence and Counterterrorism Subcommittee, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas regarding the recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence report indicating that the Maduro regime is releasing violent prisoners from Venezuela to be sent in migrant caravans to the Southwest border.
“President Biden’s open border policies have allowed millions of illegal immigrants, including criminals from other countries, across the U.S. border,” said Congressman August Pfluger. “The Biden Administration must answer to the American people on why they refuse to work with Republicans to secure our border and prevent terrorists and criminals from entering the U.S.”
Read the full letter below:
Dear Secretary Mayorkas,
I write with great concern for the safety and security of the American people. Since President Biden entered office, there have been nearly 3.4 million migrant encounters at the Southwest border, and an additional 900,000 known gotaways who evaded U.S. Border Patrol agents. Separately, 78 people whose names appear on the Terrorist Screening Dataset (TSDS) were encountered attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border between ports of entry this fiscal year to date. The policies this administration has implemented regarding our immigration and border security are encouraging Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) and Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) to take advantage of our vulnerable Southwest border. In a frightening new development, the illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro Moros in Venezuela may now be deliberately sending violent criminals to our borders.
There have been reports of a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence report indicating that the Maduro regime is releasing violent prisoners from Venezuela to be sent in migrant caravans to the Southwest border. Allegedly, the intelligence report directs Border Patrol agents to search for Venezuelan convicts – including possible FTO and TCO affiliates –attempting to enter the U.S. Despite this, however, it is particularly difficult for Border Patrol agents to identify Venezuelans with terrorist affiliations and criminal records given poor diplomatic relations and gaps in information sharing between the United States and Venezuela.
We have previously seen the dangerous consequences that a lack of intelligence sharing creates. In April 2022, due to the Biden administration’s policies, the Border Patrol released Insardo Garcia-Amando into the United States. Three days later, Garcia-Amando was flagged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Terrorist Screening Center as a positive match within the TSDS. It took two more weeks for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to arrest this individual. Garcia-Amando is a Colombian citizen, a country that has a relatively robust information sharing relationship with the United States. This gap in security and intelligence underscores the lack of visibility the Department of Homeland Security likely has into how many individuals present within the TSDS have been permitted to enter the country under the Biden administration’s watch.
The number of Venezuelan migrants encountered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has increased nearly 3,000 percent from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2022. Given the reports of the deliberate, nefarious actions of the illegitimate Maduro regime, it is more important than ever that CBP has the tools and capabilities in place to identify foreign violent criminals, affiliates of FTOs, and affiliates of TCOs.
In our continuing effort to seek transparency and accountability on behalf of the American people, please provide responses the following by October 4, 2022.
We ask you to provide answers to these questions in a timely manner. Should you or your staff have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Adrienne Spero on the Committee staff at (202) 226-8417. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Intelligence & Counterterrorism