Only six immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from Oct. 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018, were on a federal government list of known or suspected terrorists, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data provided to Congress and obtained by NBC News, a figure far lower than the one touted by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders last Friday.
Sanders during a press conference said, “nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally, and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is the southern border.”
President Donald Trump and top administration officials have used the larger figure as a sticking point in their argument of the importance of building a border wall, saying thousands of criminals and terrorists are stopped or arrested every year by U.S. authorities.
The figure by Sanders appears to include the number of known or suspected terrorists who showed up at airports and land crossings.
In January 2018, a joint report by the Homeland Security and Justice departments stated Homeland Security had 2,554 “encounters” worldwide with people on a watch list who were trying to travel to the U.S. Of them, 2,170 were trying to come by air, with 335 by land and the rest by sea. Nothing ties them specifically to Mexico.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.