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.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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