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.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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