Following my revelations that President Biden's Department of Homeland Security has intentionally approved thousands of questionably vetted terror-country immigrants over the southern border, influential Sen. Chuck Grassley has fired off a scathing oversight letter demanding detailed explanations.
The letter Grassley (R-Iowa) sent Thursday to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and his top border lieutenants, released to the public Monday, prominently cites my Center for Immigration Studies reports showing the administration cleared far more inadmissible immigrants to use the CBP One app to schedule escorted walkovers through eight land ports, for far longer and from a far wider spectrum of countries — just shy of 100 — than ever disclosed.
And some come from countries threatening America on a daily basis as the Hamas-Israel war reaches a new stage.
Under the CBP One scheme, foreign nationals with an appointment can cross "legally" to meet US Customs and Border Protection officials, who have approved 99.7% of them for quick releases into America with eligibility for two-year renewable work permits.
Among the more than 249,000 DHS-approved walkover entries from May 2021 through August 2023 were more than 7,300 immigrants from dozens of nations the United States has long tagged as "countries of national security concern" whose immigrants required enhanced terrorism security screening — "special-interest aliens," or SIAs.
People approved for walkovers include individuals from Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, with some of the largest numbers coming from Muslim-majority former Soviet republics such as Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Grassley, ranking member of the powerful Senate Budget Committee, doubts that required terrorism screening is occurring.
He demands a full accounting as to what extent approved walkover immigrants from higher-risk nations have undergone any effective terrorism screening.
He also wants information on the tens of thousands more from these countries who have crossed illegally between the ports and won quick personal-recognizance releases into the nation's interior.
It "appears CBP One is being used to intentionally invite SIAs into the United States without undergoing previously required national security vetting procedures," Grassley wrote.
"Simply put the Biden Administration is allowing people to enter the country without knowing who they are."
Some of these countries, of course, "do not share intelligence information."
The Grassley inquiry goes out as Israel's fight against Hamas heightens concern that Biden's mass-migration crisis has rendered the collapsed American southwest border even more vulnerable to crossings by organized Islamic extremists or individuals predisposed to impulsively attack the United States for militarily and diplomatically siding with Israel.
A record-breaking 270 apprehended SIAs on the FBI's terrorism watch list were among the estimated more than 1.8 million "gotaways" who the Border Patrol says entered the US interior undetected since Biden took office in 2021.
Signaling a sense of urgency, Grassley's office demands answers by Nov. 10, the first time any member of Congress has demanded any public accounting about SIAs.
Grassley's intercession cites my congressional testimony and recent reports revealing Biden's app program is choosing to funnel in thousands of SIAs from Muslim-majority countries with likely no effective security vetting.
Recent cases of administration mishandling of FBI watchlisted SIAs strongly indicate post-9/11 counterterrorism border programs have crumbled under the human onslaught Biden policies triggered on Inauguration Day.
After announcing this scheme as the cornerstone of its border policy in January 2023 and mainly for just four nationalities — Cubans, Haitians, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans — the administration shrouded it in secrecy, deflecting all records requests and inquiries by other members of Congress.
Records I finally obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, however, show the Biden administration actually began this program 19 months earlier, in May 2021, and brought through 249,000-plus foreign nationals through August from 93 more countries than just the four publicly emphasized.
Yes, there were surprisingly high numbers of SIAs from 24 countries of terrorism concern such as 3,852 Kyrgyzstanis, 1,843 Uzbekistanis, 780 Tajikistanis and 339 Kazakhstanis, not to mention many more from terror-plagued African countries such as Egypt, Senegal and Mauritania.
News of this unique American scheme allowing aliens to schedule their illegal immigration and get work permits has reached the farthest corners of the planet.
The administration approved 1,086 Armenians, 888 from Belarus, 244 from Azerbaijan and dozens from mainland China and Mongolia.
In mysterious decisions that have never been questioned because no one knew of them, Biden's DHS brought in at land ports nearly 24,000 Russians.
Some cases are so strange as to demand public explanation.
Small numbers of so-called asylum seekers were let in from France, Spain, Greece, Poland and Hungary, democracies not known as hotbeds of political persecution.
One even came in from Canada, another from the United Kingdom and yet another from "British Indian Ocean Territory."
This is hard to explain since many of these countries have visa-waiver agreements with America, and their citizens can enter at will through normal travel channels.
Perhaps most mysterious of the CBP One decisions was bringing in through the land ports on humanitarian-protection grounds more than 57,000 Mexican nationals, representing the largest single nationality in the program.
Mexican citizens almost never qualify for US protections and are rejected for asylum at a rate of 96%.
Grassley demands the Biden team describe all of its security-vetting processes for the SIAs, pointing to my reporting that key, all-important face-to-face interviews with them have gone by the wayside in the crush of mass migration.
The senator also questions whether the few database checks the administration relies on for SIAs and all other nationalities it is letting through would ever show anything for those from nations diplomatically hostile to the United States.
And Grassley's letter asks the Biden administration about another unexplored public interest issue related to SIAs released into the nation: "Upon release, it is practically impossible to track all immigrants," he notes.
Todd Bensman is a Ginsburg/Milstein Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a senior national security fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies. He previously led counterterrorism-related intelligence efforts for the Texas Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division.