U.S. agents apprehending terror suspects at the southern border is not typical, the White House said on Tuesday.
“Encounters of known and suspected terrorists are very uncommon,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington.
“They do underscore the importance of the critical work done by those at the border. DHS works not just at the border as you know but also with international partners to share intelligence and other information, including to prevent individuals on certain watchlists from entering the United States. They adjudicate individuals encountered at and between ports of entry against several classified and unclassified databases. So while this is rare, it is a reflection of them doing their jobs,” she added.
She referred to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for more information.
CBP officers captured two Yemeni men who are on the FBI’s Terrorism Watch List at the border this year, including one on March 30, the agency said on Monday.
The agency’s statement was later deleted.
CBP did not answer an inquiry about the deletion. A spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email that the agency doesn’t have numbers for how many terror suspects have been caught at the border during the current fiscal year and the past two fiscal years.
“Our border security efforts are layered and include multiple levels of rigorous screening that allow us to detect and prevent people who pose national security or public safety risks from entering the United States. DHS works with our international partners to share intelligence and other information, including to prevent individuals on the terrorist watchlist from entering the United States,” the spokesperson said.
“CBP adjudicates individuals encountered at and between our ports of entry against several classified and unclassified databases to determine if they pose a threat to national security, consistent with the law. While encounters of known and suspected terrorists at our borders are very uncommon, they underscore the importance of the critical work our agents carry out on a daily basis to vet all individuals encountered at our borders.”
DHS said in January 2019 that an average of 10 known or suspected terrorists are prevented from entering the United States every day. Most are encountered at airports or even while still overseas as they apply for a visa.
But an additional 3,000 “special-interest” illegal immigrants were apprehended at the southwest border in 2018, the DHS secretary at the time said.
Mexican cartels control swaths of land in northern Mexico and they’re known to use large groups of families and children to tie up Border Patrol resources so they can send illicit goods and criminals through an unpatrolled area. Another tactic is to place criminals in with large groups so they can blend in.
Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.