Probably No Terrorists Were Stopped at the Southern Border Last Year, and Trump Knows It

President Trump five days ago:

[In 2017] over 3,700 known or suspected terrorists tried to enter into this country…at the southern border because there’s no wall, there’s no physical barrier. There’s no way to actually control ports of entry…..It’s a problem of national security. It’s a problem of terrorists….We have terrorists coming through the southern border because they find that’s probably the easiest place to come through. They drive right in and they make a left.


And here is NBC News reporting information that the Trump administration submitted to Congress last summer:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered only six immigrants at ports of entry on the U.S-Mexico border in the first half of fiscal year 2018 whose names were on a federal government list of known or suspected terrorists, according to CBP data provided to Congress in May 2018 and obtained by NBC News.

….Overall, 41 people on the Terrorist Screening Database were encountered at the southern border from Oct. 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, but 35 of them were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Six were classified as non-U.S. persons. On the northern border, CBP stopped 91 people listed in the database, including 41 who were not American citizens or residents.

Six. And this is merely people who were on a watchlist. Given what we know about the terrorist watchlist, this means the most likely number of real threats stopped at the southern border was zero or one.

But it gets worse. These were people stopped at legal ports of entry, so a wall obviously wouldn’t have affected them anyway. Apparently the Border Patrol stopped five people between ports of entry, but we don’t know how many of them were trying to sneak across the southern border vs. the northern border. One or two? Of which, probably none were genuine threats.

In other words, a wall most likely would have stopped no terrorists at all. Maybe a couple if we’re being generous.

Eventually Sarah Sanders is going to have to fess up to this instead of droning on about “three thousand” terrorists, nearly all of whom were stopped at airports. But I’m not sure I even care. At this point, anything officially released by the White House should simply be considered a lie unless it’s confirmed with someone reliable.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate