A fifth-generation Arizona rancher said an influx of illegal migrants crossing his land in recent years has increased his fear that terrorists are successfully sneaking into America.
"It's really a serious issue," Jim Chilton, owner of the Chilton Ranch, told Fox News. "We have no security on our ranch nor in most places along the border anymore. It's not good. It's not better in any sense. It's still outrageous."
The ongoing crisis at the southern border is breaking records as illegal migrant entries skyrocket, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. The first week of December saw a record-setting 18,900 migrant apprehensions in Arizona's Tucson Sector alone, the section's Chief Border Patrol Agent John Modlin said.
By comparison, that's about 2,000 more encounters than all of December 2021 for that sector, according to CBP data. Daily encounters also reached a new record-high across the southern border earlier this month, with more than 12,000 migrants flooding in on Dec. 4.
"It's a national security issue," Chilton said. "I'm very concerned that terrorists are coming across the border."
CBP encountered 169 people on the FBI terror watch lists between ports of entry at the southern border in fiscal 2023, data show. That total exceeded not only the previous year's record-setting 98 encounters, but the last six fiscal years combined.
"When are they going to strike, and are they walking through my ranch?" Chilton said.
The border rancher previously told Fox News his wife, while home alone, opened the door to MS-13 members carrying guns.
"It’s kind of scary," Chilton said. "That’s just life on the border."
Chilton fears more cartel members crossed his property without his knowledge this year. He said cartels fight for control of the trails through his ranch, and he's occasionally seen coyotes smuggling migrants across his land.
"We have cartel scouts on our mountains," he said. They "really have control of everything."
The fifth-generation rancher is frightened that cartels flood certain areas with migrants to divert Border Patrol agents, creating undermanned sections where smugglers can bring in terrorists and drugs. The port of entry in Lukeville, Arizona, for example, closed Dec. 4 so agents could address an illegal migrant surge nearby.
"It's a method of controlling where everybody goes. It's a method for opening up other routes for crossing really bad guys, drug packers," Chilton previously told Fox News. "The cartel is running drugs and bad people across other areas."
Chilton partially blames the migrant influx on President Biden's decision to halt construction on the border wall, which protects only part of his property. The administration approved $950 million for repairs and upgrades in November, but Chilton still urged Biden to finish construction and hire more Border Patrol agents to protect Americans.
"You shouldn't give a message to the world that the border is open and all you have to do is come through, and you'll get processed, captured and released into the United States," Chilton said. "It's a national security issue."