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 hasn’t responded to requests for comment on the deletion of the statement and for how many people on terror lists have been caught at the border during this and the two previous fiscal years.
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” aliens 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.