Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday misleadingly claimed that nearly 4,000 “known or suspected terrorists” were caught trying to enter the US as he made the Trump administration’s push for a southern border wall.
“Nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists were apprehended attempting to come into the United States through various means in the last year,” Pence said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
But here’s the thing: That number, however, is deeply misleading as justification for a wall on the southern border.
According to a senior administration official familiar with Customs and Border Protection data, just 12 non-US citizens on the terror watch were encountered on the southern border between October 2017 and October 2018.
That data concerns individuals attempting to travel to the US by air, sea or land, and includes those who made efforts to obtain visas from embassies and consulates around the world.
In July 2017, the State Department said there was “no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States.” The vast majority of those 4,000 individuals attempted to enter by air.
CLARIFICATION: This post has been updated to reflect that the individuals encountered at the border on the terror watchlist were non-US citizens.