US Border Patrol chief triggers alarm over border crisis

US Border Patrol chief triggers alarm over border crisis

US Border Patrol chief Jason Owens has called the situation at the southern border a "national security threat".

Owens expressed concern that tens of thousands of migrants have evaded apprehension, however added that the vast majority of migrants coming to the US border are "good people."

Owens, who has been in the top job since June 2023 following the retirement of Raul Ortiz added the flow of people coming in is being driven by cartels.

In both fiscal years 2022 and 2023, Border Patrol reported over two million apprehensions of migrants who crossed the southern border illegally, both all-time highs.

He told CBS News: "What's keeping me up at night is the 140,000 known got-aways...Why are they risking their lives and crossing in areas where we can't get to?

"Why are they hiding? What do they have to hide? What are they bringing in? What is their intent? Where are they coming from?

"We simply don't know the answers to those questions. Those things for us are what represent the threat to our communities.

"Border security is a big piece of national security...and if we don't know who is coming into our country, and we don't know what their intent is, that is a threat and they're exploiting a vulnerability that's on our border right now."

Owens called for tougher immigration policies to reduce the number of migrants arriving to the southern border.

He told CBS News: "I'm talking about jail time. I'm talking about being removed from the country and I'm talking about being banned from being able to come back because you chose to come in the illegal way instead of the established lawful pathways that we set for you."

Immigration is among the top three concerns for voting-age Americans. Biden has tried to appeal simultaneously to the Democratic base in favour of protecting asylum seekers while also chasing other voters who want to reduce the number of illegal crossings from Mexico.