The Trump-hating media have pounded White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for her “unfortunate misstatement” (as presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway put it) on “Fox News Sunday” that some 3,700 “known or suspected terrorists” were caught at the U.S.–Mexico border.
In fact, these “special-interest aliens” include terrorists, people who have lived or traveled through terrorist hotbeds, and others whose whereabouts trigger closer scrutiny when entering the U.S. This number includes people apprehended on the border, but mainly at airports and other locations.
Trump’s detractors have used this dustup to imply that if there are not 3,700 ISIS killers in Tijuana pole-vaulting into San Ysidro, then terrorists must be as rare there as polar bears. This echoes the words of former U.S. representative Robert Francis (Beto) O’Rourke, D-Texas. He claimed last year that “precisely zero terrorists, terrorist groups, or terror plots have ever been connected with the U.S.–Mexico border to do harm to people within the United States.”
PolitiFact — not exactly a far-right news organization — rejected O’Rourke’s statement: “We rate this claim False.”
In fact, terrorists have been caught on the southern frontier, including some who were conspiring to rustle their comrades across the border and others intent on committing mayhem against Americans. As PolitiFact explained: “It also looks to us like authorities have foiled every known plan.”
Janet Napolitano, Obama’s homeland-security secretary, testified on Capitol Hill in July 2012 that terrorists enter America via the southern frontier “from time to time.” So, we have that going for us.
Obama himself identified this problem while he was a Democratic senator from Illinois. As he said on the Senate floor on April 3, 2006, “because we live in an age where terrorists are challenging our borders, we simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked.”
Based on journalistic sources and unclassified government records, here are a dozen militant-Islamic terrorists snared or detected at the U.S.–Mexico border or caught trying to breach it — alone or in cahoots with others.
This column is adapted from a column that first appeared in the National Review. Keep reading here.