The Border Patrol announced Monday that agents arrested two Yemeni men who were on the FBI’s terrorist watch list over the past two months, confirming Republican lawmakers’ reports that terrorism suspects were attempting to sneak into the country as part of the migrant surge.
One of the men was nabbed last week near Calexico, California, after he jumped the border.
The 26-year-old was found to be on both the FBI’s terrorism watch list and the No-Fly list.
The other man was arrested near Calexico, California, early in the morning on Jan. 29, just days after President Biden was inaugurated. That 33-year-old was also on both the watch list and the No-Fly list.
Agents also said they found a cellular phone sim card concealed under the man’s shoe insole.
The Border Patrol didn’t release names but did publish pictures online.
Republicans during a visit to the border last month said they had heard from agents that terrorist suspects were using the migrant surge to attempt to cross.
Those claims drew complaints from congressional Democrats and immigrant-rights advocates, and sparked fact-check stories from media outlets.
Business Insider called the claims “fear-mongering,” and questioned the validity of the watch list itself. CNN said that there was “no evidence of a sudden rush of individuals on the terror watch list.”
Arrests of terrorism suspects on the border have long been a controversial matter, with some Trump administration officials overstating the prevalence. Most suspects encountered by Homeland Security are attempting to enter through ports of entry.
But border crossings do happen.
The Washington Times has reported on several cases where members of designated terrorist organizations penetrated the border, and on the networks that exist to siphon people from terrorism-connected countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan to South America and then up to the U.S.