Rep. Tom Tancredo

At least 51 people who crossed the border illegally have been arrested on suspicion of terrorism since such tracking began 14 months ago, according to figures released to Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., by the Department of Homeland Security.

Tancredo, a leading congressional advocate of immigration reform, says the figures document the national security risk the nation’s porous borders pose on the eve of Congress’ first attempt in nearly a decade to rewrite immigration law.

Since October 2004, the Joint Terrorism Task Forces have kept track of arrested terrorist suspects who are in the U.S. illegally.

The JTTF document released to Tancredo shows 51 people were arrested who had “entered without inspection” into the U.S. from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Pakistan.

“If this isn’t a wake-up call to our lax border security, I don’t know what is,” said Tancredo. “What scares me is not this list from federal law enforcement – after all, we’ve already caught those terrorists. What scares me is the potentially hundreds of terrorists who make their way through our porous borders each year and go undetected.”

The suspected illegal alien terrorists were arrested on a wide variety of charges, from smuggling weapons to illegally wiring large sums of money into the country, the document says.

Tancredo noted that this week, the House of Representatives is scheduled to complete a bill to strengthen border security and help enforce immigration laws.

“Judging by these terrorism figures, Congress is not acting a moment too soon,” said Tancredo. “Knowing what we know now, what could Congress say if a terrorist attack occurred that secure borders would have prevented? We’ve relied on our good fortune for too long – we must protect Americans by stopping terrorists before they get here.”

Last month, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, said he’s been shown “anecdotal evidence” suggesting an Arabic presence along the U.S.-Mexico border. He noted the Bush administration has not publicly released the information because it is “a matter of intelligence.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas

Cornyn said he has seen beverage boxes with Arabic language and other items, including the image of a commercial airliner striking a building. He is working with other senators to craft legislation that supports the president’s proposed guest-worker program but adds stricter border and worksite enforcement measures.

Also in November, WorldNetDaily reported U.S. Rep. John A. Culberson, also a Texas Republican, said there had been an increase in apprehensions of so-called “special interest aliens,” or SIAs, along the border – many from countries where al-Qaida is known to operate.

In testimony Nov. 10 before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims, Culberson – a member of the congressional Immigration Reform Caucus headed by Tancredo – told the panel, “I am particularly concerned that aliens from countries such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Indonesia and the Sudan are entering our country illegally.”

In January, the discovery in Texas of a jacket featuring an Arabic military badge and an airplane headed toward a tower with the words “Midnight Mission” fueled fears of a possible connection to terrorism.

Patch depicting plane flying toward tower with words ‘Midnight Mission’

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