Border Crossers on Terror Watch List: CBP Deleted Press Release Detailing Their Arrest

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"190611-H-VJ018-0017" (United States government work) by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A press release detailing the arrest of two illegal immigrants on a terror watch list was deleted by the Customs and Border Protection, leading to Republicans accusing the Biden administration of a lack of transparency. 

On Monday, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that two Yemeni men had been apprehended and had been identified to be on a terror watch list in El Centro Sector in California in the last two months. 


The CBP added in detail that the first arrest was in January, involving a 33 year old illegal Yemeni who was reported to be on both the FBI’s Terrorism Watch List and a No-Fly List. 

The second arrest occurred only a week ago in the same sector where a 26 year old illegal Yemeni who is also on both lists was apprehended. 

The first illegal immigrant was handed over to Immgiration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) while the second was being held in federal custody.

Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino said, “Part of the Border Patrol’s mission states we will protect the country from terrorists. Today, like every other day, our agents did that. These apprehensions at our border illustrates the importance of our mission and how we can never stop being vigilant in our everyday mission to protect this great country.”

However, the press release has now been deleted by the CBP, contending on Tuesday that the news announcement by CBP Chief Patrol Agent “was not properly reviewed and contained certain disclosure and policy information related to national security that required CBP to remove it from our website.”

Last month, Fox News has also reported that there were at least four foreign nationals, including a Yemeni who was arrested in January. They had been picked up by Border Patrol trying to enter the country illegally since October. Their names also match those on terror watch list. 

Meanwhile, a CBP spokesperson said in a statement that at the time security efforts at the border “are layered and include multiple levels of rigorous screening that allow us to detect and prevent people who pose national security or public safety risks from entering the United States.”

The spokesperson added, “DHS works with our international partners to share intelligence and other information, including to prevent individuals on the terrorist watchlist from entering the United States. CBP adjudicates individuals encountered at and between our ports of entry against several classified and unclassified databases to determine if they pose a threat to national security, consistent with the law.”

“While encounters of known and suspected terrorists at our borders are very uncommon, they underscore the importance of the critical work our agents carry out on a daily basis to vet all individuals encountered at our borders,” the CBP spokesperson said.

On Tuesday, the White House also tried to cover the reports by stating that such apprehensions were ” uncommon” and a sign that officials were doing their jobs.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “They do underscore the importance of the critical work that is done on a daily basis to vet those at the border. DHS works, not just at the border as you know, but also with international partners to share intelligence and other information including to prevent individuals on certain watchlist from entering the United States.”

Psaki added that they adjudicate individuals encountered at and between ports of entry against several classified and unclassified databases. She said, “So while this is rare, this is a reflection of them doing their jobs.”

However, Republicans had pointed to the arrest as evidence that the Biden’s open border strategy poses a “dangerous” threat to the nation, noting that the deletion of the press release by the CBP and linked it to accusations of a lack of transparency about what is going on at the border.

Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee wrote on Twitter, “@DHSgov & @CBP Why did you take down your previously public tweet & press release announcing that two people on the terror watch list were apprehended exploiting President Biden’s open border policies? Transparency in name alone is not transparency.”

These information surfaced amid the continued concerns about the ongoing border crisis at the southern border, which Republicans have blamed on the rollback of policies that former President Trump have put in place such as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) by President Biden’s administration.