Mar 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Four people matching terror watchlist arrested at border

A member of the Mexican Guard stands guard at the border between the United States and Mexico following the House GOP Congressional Delegation to the border Sunland Park, New Mexico

A member of the Mexican Guard stands guard at the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo: Justin Hamel/AFP via Getty Images

The Customs and Border Protection agency confirmed to Congress today that four people arrested at the southern border since Oct. 1 match names on the FBI's Terrorist Screening Database, a congressional aide briefed on the correspondence told Axios.

Why it matters: Three of the people arrested were from Yemen and one was from Serbia. The four arrests are more than the number of similar people taken into custody during recent full fiscal years, according to the source. In fiscal 2018, six people from Yemen and Bangladesh were arrested.

  • Most migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border come from Mexico or Central America and are seeking asylum, family reunification or better jobs in the U.S.
  • Republican House members who visited the border on Monday said an unspecified number of migrants crossing the border had names matching those on the terror watchlist.
  • Former President Trump and other conservatives have frequently warned — sometimes inaccurately — about foreign terrorists entering the United States via the southern border.

The big picture: The watchlist is long, and it includes people who are "known to be or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activities," according to the FBI.

  • The Department of Homeland Security stopped more than 3,700 people on the watchlist from coming into the country during fiscal year 2017, ending Sept. 30, 2017.
  • Most were stopped at airports.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with further details about the watchlist.

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