Rubio links ISIS threat to US border after Moscow attack

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Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday drew a connection between the deadly ISIS attack on a Moscow concert hall Friday and U.S.-Mexico border policy, a top issue for Republicans ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Rubio, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, attributed to “common sense” that a for-profit human smuggling group with reported links to ISIS will “most certainly use [their network] to move operatives into the United States.”

At least since 1975, no one in the United States has been injured or killed in a terrorist attack perpetrated by someone who entered the country illegally, according to congressional testimony delivered by Cato Institute Vice President for Economic and Social Policy Studies Alex Nowrasteh last year.

The only three people who are known to have entered the country illegally through the U.S.-Mexico border and have subsequently been convicted of terrorism-related charges were Dritan Duka, Eljvir Duka, and Shain Duka, who entered the country as young children in 1984 and were arrested in 2007, according to Nowrasteh.

Regardless, alleged links between potential acts of terrorism and illegal crossings on the Southwest border have become central to the debate on border policy.

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens told CBS News in an interview that, despite the Border Patrol’s around 2 million apprehensions of people who illicitly cross the border every year, he worries most about the 140,000 people who successfully sneak into the country.

That’s despite Owens’s Border Patrol being the most successful in history, with an apprehension rate of 91.3 percent in December, according to an analysis of official figures by the Cato Institute.

That’s the highest-recorded apprehension rate since 2006: In November of that year, the Border Patrol only apprehended 54.1 percent of the people it recorded crossing the border, and at the time the agency’s sensor network was much less sophisticated.

Before 2006, experts estimate there were as many as 3 million successful attempts at evading the Border Patrol per year, dating back to the 1970s.

“The evidence that terrorists are crossing the border is of such low quality that we can safely discount much of it. This fact could always change, and the future is unknowable, but available information indicates that foreign‐​born terrorists seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border is at most a very small and manageable threat,” Nowrasteh said in his testimony to the Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement in August.

Yet Rubio, who has been discussed as a potential White House running mate for former President Trump, underscored that, however remote, the threat exists.

“I’m not claiming there’s an imminent threat to the U.S., but I am saying that border situation and the existence of that network is a threat to the United States,” he said.

At least 137 people were killed in Moscow on Friday when gunmen struck the Crocus City Hall. The attack has been claimed by Islamic State group ISIS-K.

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