2004 November 15 Monday
Middle Easterners Enter United States Illegally From Mexico

Border Patrol agents will not go on record about Middle Easterners crossing over the border from Mexico.

"People are coming here with bad intentions. I know of 10 that have been detained at my station alone," said a Border Patrol agent whose identity has been withheld at his request. He said this is something that agents have been told not to talk about.

"We know for a fact that people coming from the Middle East are now coming into Mexico and spending a year, even two years in Mexico, to learn how to speak Spanish," the Border Patrol agent told NBC4.

"The key is to pass yourself off as a Mexican," said retired Army Colonel Ben Anderson. He has been following what he calls the terrorist trail and connecting the dots on his website.

While the Border Patrol agents are intimidated into anonymity or silence by the Bush Administration the government's official message is to downplay the threat of terrorists crossing over from Mexico. The official US government line is that no terrorists have passed into the United States through Mexico.

MEXICO CITY - Top U.S. and Mexican authorities said that they have taken significant steps to increase security along their shared border but acknowledged that it is a "very attractive" possible route for terrorists wanting to harm the United States.


No terrorists are believed to have crossed into the United States from Mexico, but the U.S. and Mexican security chiefs underscored the importance of not letting down their guard against potential threats.

Hundreds of thousands or millions of people pass over the border illegally every year. Some small fraction who are caught are from the Middle East. As near as I can tell the US government will not release numbers on how many are from the Middle East. If anyone can find information from the government on Middle Easterners caught on the Mexican border please email me or post in the comments. But however many Middle Easterners do cross over the US-Mexican border it seems highly likely that, like the Mexicans who cross, most will not be caught by the Border Patrol.

Back in 2001 one border patrol agent told a reporter that one in ten OTMs (illegal aliens who are "Other Than Mexicans") caught were Middle Easterners.

Another agent, of supervisory rank, stated, "The smuggling traffic of Mexicans has really slowed. We are experiencing a tremendous increase in OTMs" border lingo for "other than Mexicans." When queried about the ethnic make up of the OTMs, he answered, "Central and South Americans, Orientals and Middle-Easterners." Middle-Easterners? "Yeah, it varies, but about one in every 10 that we catch, is from a country like Yemen or Egypt.

So how many OTMs are being caught in 2004 and what fraction of them are from the Middle East? Has that fraction declined or increased since 2001?

The government claims the vast bulk of illegals are from the Americas.

According to the report, a spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol in Washington, D.C., said 99.4 percent of the 955,310 people apprehended by the agency from Oct. 1, 2001, through Sept. 30, 2002, were from the Americas, which includes Canada, Mexico and other Central and South American nations. The remainder comes from 140 countries.

Here is what is especially infuriating. Not only are Middle Easterners sneaking into the United States undetected. But even many of those caught crossing the border illegally are eventually released with orders to appear voluntarily at a future legal hearing.

Patrol agents told one Arizona newspaper that 77 males "of Middle Eastern descent" were apprehended in June in two separate incidents. All were trekking through the Chiricahua mountains and are believed to have been part of a larger group of illegal immigrants. Many were released pending immigration hearings. According to Solomon Ortiz, the Congressman for Corpus Christi in Texas, similar incidents are "happening all over the place. It's very, very scary".

The two groups of Arab males were discovered by patrol guards from Willcox, Arizona. "These guys didn't speak Spanish," said one field agent, "and they were speaking to each other in Arabic. It's ridiculous that we don't take this more seriously. We're told not to say a thing to the media." A colleague told the paper: "All the men had brand-new clothing and the exact same cut of moustache." Local ranchers have also reported a rise in the sightings of large groups of young males.

Note the theme running through many news reports that quote anonymous Border Patrol agents: The agents are instructed to keep the public from learning about what is going.

The official number of illegals caught from Islamic countries is probably an underestimate of the real number.

To make matters worse, the Department of Homeland Security is so hopelessly overstretched that it has taken to releasing what it calls OTMs (Other Than Mexicans) because it cannot house them until it arranges for deportation hearings.


Fewer than 30 per cent of the OTMs released into the US actually show up for their hearings, meaning an estimated 400,000 illegal aliens are currently in the US after being caught and released.

Officially, fewer than 100 border jumpers apprehended along the Mexican borders within the last year were from nations associated with Islamic terrorism.

However, Travis said that few of these people had identification papers, and many lied and said they were from South America in order to evade attention and have a better chance of being released.

'We have heard from border patrol agents that they're being told to let people who look like they're from East Africa and the Middle East go because they say their name is Juan Pablo Garcia from Guatemala - except that they don't speak a word of Spanish,' she said.

Middle Easterner OTMs caught crossing the border are treated the same as Brazilians or Germans.

"The law does not differentiate based on nationality. So enforcement does not differ based on nationality," says Reed Little, Detention and Enforcement Officer for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He added that ICE officials must justify their actions before immigration judges.

Asked if a 25-year-old man from Saudi Arabia would be treated at all differently from other illegal aliens coming across the Mexican border, ICE spokesman Manny Van Pelt said, "No."

Van Pelt said the government's general practice is to release apprehended aliens into the United States without requiring bond pending their deportation hearing, unless they have criminal records, are flagged in a government database as a potential threat, or their interviews with agents reveal a potential threat.

Ethnic profiling would reduce the risk of terrorist attacks.

There really are people out there who would love to get into the United States and cause enormous damage. Egyptian Sharif al-Masri, captured along the Pakistan-Iran border in August 2004, has told interrogators Al Qaeda has considered smuggling nuclear material into the United States through Mexico.

Masri also said al-Qaeda has considered plans to "smuggle nuclear materials to Mexico, then operatives would carry material into the U.S.," according to the report, parts of which were read to TIME. Masri says his family, seeking refuge from al-Qaeda hunters, is now in Iran.

Of course, Al Qaeda would have to acquire such materials. My guess is that at this point the best they could do would be to get the nuclear materials needed for a dirty bomb which would use a conventional chemical explosive to spread radioactive material over a large area. But terrorists can kill a lot of people with well-placed non-nuclear bombs.

One thing is for sure: We are protected more by the limits of Al Qaeda's talents and resources than we are by US government policy toward our borders.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 November 15 01:44 AM  Immigration Terrorism

Bob Badour said at November 15, 2004 10:53 AM:

99.4% eh?

Um that means that "only" 5700 of them are from other places. Using 1 in 10 from the middle east means only 570 middle easterners have come across that way. That's only enough for thirty September 11's assuming 19 per attack.

What? Me worry?

Invisible Scientist said at November 15, 2004 12:14 PM:

Randall Parker:

You wrote: "One thing is for sure: We are protected more by the limits of Al Qaeda's talents and resources than we are by US government policy toward our borders."

Before WW II, the Nazi Germany did have a not so secret nuclear bomb project, but for a variety of reasons, Germany
failed to pursue the project, and they failed to obtain the device on time. Similarly, the Turks had giant cannons
to demolish the walls of Byzantium, which were weapons the world had not seen.

Thus the capabilities of the opponent have always been quite central in importance.

The two novelties with the Al Qaeda system are that:
1) They have a decentralized, fluid, nebulous, and diffuse, but nevertheless an organized government that follows their
holy book very literally, in such a way that their population is expendable in order to achieve victory. This is at
variance with the Nazi Germany, or Communist Soviet Union, in the sense that even though the latter two countries
were ruled in a totalitarian manner, their governments were ready to negotiate for peace in the event of high
casualties if their wars got out of hand.
2)Geographically, the Al Qaeda is able to blend with innocent looking populations, making it difficult to
use conventional war methods to go after them. This is more of a function of technology. The Nazis had to stay
in Germany, they could not blend with foreign nations. If their only ability were
to conduct assassinations and occasional bombings, or hijackings, we could have lived with this danger. But in this
era, the weapons of mass destruction are giving power to small groups.

Invisible Scientist said at November 15, 2004 12:29 PM:


My point in the above trivial observations, was that in order to deal with the difficult ordeal we are
facing in the future, it is possible that we may have to pay attention to the proponents of Arnold Schwarzenegger
who want to amend the Constitution, so that a naturalized U.S. Citizen can become the President of the United
States. The current ads in California, say that "You cannot choose the land you were born. You can choose the
land you love." Given the rumors that the parents of Arnold Schwarzenegger were Nazis, it is possible that
in Al Qaeda pulls off another massive attack in the US, then we will perhaps elect our first bulletprooof president
in history. In the event of a terrorist attack in near the White House, his body guards would hide behind
Arnold Schwarzenegger. Remember, probably one of the main reasons Hitler was elected, was because of the
danger of Bolsheviks gaining ground in Munich, which scared the German people.

John S Bolton said at November 16, 2004 1:06 AM:

Officials are trying to maintain an omerta on their lawless refusal to defend the borders. If such terrorists do use that route for more terror-bombings, the administration is hoping to escape blame. You can't be wide-open to terrorists on one side, and also get away with pretending to be defending the country. These officials have even started using Soros' terms suggesting that there exists an openness-value, and such as would make openness to massive terror offensives valuable as well. Someone must raise the issue of whether our top officials are legally obliged to register as agents of the Mexican government.

John S Bolton said at November 18, 2004 12:52 AM:

Continuing with implications of the last comment; doesn't California law allow for politicians to be accused by the public of crimes? Isn't the refusal of officials to register as agents of the Mexican government, when they do its bidding, a crime such as may be brought up under public accusation?

Proborders said at November 19, 2004 4:46 PM:

The border with Mexico should be more secure.

I favor reducing immigration from Mexico. However, it is possible to increase immigration from Mexico and have a much more secure border with Mexico at the same time.

Malcolm B. said at November 14, 2005 6:58 AM:

The fact of the matter is, the number of people who drown crossing the Rio Grande will not change no matter how strict the border patrol is. What we need is for Mexico's economy to drag itself out of the gutter, and for us to help them. Then we can maybe start to think about an amnesty agreement for Mexican immigrants if they help us stop Al-Qaeda's infiltration through their country.

Randall Parker said at November 14, 2005 7:45 AM:

A wall would stop the illegal influx.

Smartass said at April 15, 2006 1:53 PM:

The Wall would have to rival the great wall of China. Haven't you seen the video of people breaching the wall where we already have one? Not to mention the tunnels. It's a bigger problem than that.

It's scary. Why don't we hear about the Middle Eastern OTM's in the press. Why do we let political correctness stop us from treating them differently. Catch and release for these people is just irresponsible. Racial profiling may not be completely fool proof, I doubt all Al-Quaeda are Middle Eastern, but when they come up illegaly through Mexico (or Canada) it sure should set off a red flag.

P.S. As for how strict ICE is, did anybody see them present at these illegal alien rallys we have had recently.(NO??) The illegal aliens say they don't want to be treated like criminals, but hey, aren't they? They are breaking the law by being here. Or do I missunderstand the term Illegal.

P.S.S. Ive got nothing against aliens. I am married to one, but she is legal!

Randall Parker said at April 15, 2006 2:32 PM:


The Israeli wall on the West Bank costs $3.67 million per mile and at that cost we could stop the Mexicans from crossing for less than $8 billion.

As I've pointed out previously "One Year Of Illegal Alien Health Care Costs Would Pay For Border Barrier".

Highways cost millions of dollarsw to build per mile and we have 40,000 miles of highways. We've already built structures that far surpass the Great Wall of China in difficulty.

From another post, a border barrier is quite affordable.

A border barrier similar to the Israeli barrier with the West Bank would cost well under $10 billion dollars or less than 2 months costs of the war in Iraq. Or we could look at highway construction for construction costs for a wall. The materials that are used to build sound barriers along highways in populated areas would cost about $3.2 billion for a 5 meter high wall 2000 miles long (see my comment below the original post where I calculate out the numbers). There'd be additional costs for barbed wire, sensors, and additional fencing layers as well as an access road. But we could easily afford all this. It'd be similar scope to building an interstate highway along the border.

As for tunnels that move humans: They are easy to spot. Look for lots of people coming out of nowhere. If a tunnel's use is restricted to small numbers of people to maintain concealment then it will have little effect. But that will make building it uneconomic. The reason tunnels get built now is for drugs. Drugs are worth more per pound smuggled than humans.

A wall could work.

Lila said at December 3, 2008 2:32 PM:

there should be no more people crossing over.

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