Psaki: Catching Terrorists Crossing Border 'Very Uncommon' White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a daily press briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on April 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
By Eric Mack | Tuesday, 06 April 2021 01:42 PM
After the Customs and Border Patrol revealed Monday that 2 Yemeni men on a terror watchlist were nabbed at the border, the White House noted the catching of terrorists crossing the U.S. border is rare.
"These set of incidents are very uncommon," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at Tuesday daily press briefing, adding "encounters of known and suspect terrorists are very uncommon."
"They do underscore the importance of the critical work that is done on a daily basis to vet those at the border."
"While this is rare, it is a reflection of them doing their jobs," she added of CBP and Department of Homeland Security using watch lists and classified and unclassified databases, along with intelligence and work with allies to track movements of potentially dangerous individuals.
Psaki did acknowledge the pause of border wall construction is under review, but some construction will proceed as required by law.
"It is paused; there has been some limited constructed and allocated for, but it is otherwise paused," Psaki said, noting the funds diverted from military funding by the Trump administration is among those under the most extensive review.
The men, arrested in January and March near a port of entry in California, were on a U.S. government watchlist for terrorism suspects and a "no-fly" list, CBP said in a press release.
A group of Republican lawmakers that visited the border in El Paso, Texas, in March said border agents told them during the trip that some people caught crossing the border were on a U.S. terrorism watchlist. Republicans have criticized President Joe Biden for easing some restrictions put in place by former President Donald Trump as the number of border crossings has risen in recent months.
One of the men, 33, was arrested Jan. 29 after allegedly attempting to cross the border illegally near a port of entry in Calexico, California, CBP said.
Border agents found a mobile phone SIM card located beneath the insole of the man's shoe, the agency said.
The second man, 26, was arrested March 30 in the same vicinity.
CBP did not provide the names of the men.
The watchlist is maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Terrorism Screening Center. The list contains "the identities of those who are known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activities," according to the FBI.
Material from Reuters was used in this report.