House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wants Vice President Kamala Harris to address the capture of two Yemeni nationals on the terror watchlist who crossed into the U.S. from Mexico.
McCarthy told Fox News that he requested a classified briefing from the FBI and CIA on the matter and said Harris should attend.
‘I know she hasn’t been to the border,’ McCarthy told Fox. ‘I don’t know if she’s ever been briefing on this, but I think it’d be important that all leaders, because this isn’t about Republican or Democrat, this is about the security of our nation. And everybody should be making sure our nation is secure.’
Harris hasn’t made a border trip in the 15 days since she was charged with dealing with the root causes of the immigration crisis – a role President Joe Biden described as dealing with the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico, in an attempt to stem the flow.
Police register names as a group of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arrives in the U.S. after crossing the Rio Grande river on Wednesday
Migrants are seen getting out of a boat that they took to traverse the Rio Grande River from Mexico into the United States on Wednesday
A group of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arrives at a bus terminal in the U.S. after crossing the Rio Grande river from Mexico
A group from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are seen crossing the Rio Grande River into the United States on Wednesday
Migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are seen in a border facility on Wednesday
A group of migrants get off a raft that they used to travel across the Rio Grande River from Mexico into Roma, Texas
A woman and a child are lifted out of a raft after it gets to the United States from Mexico on Wednesday
Guatemalan migrant Ceidy, 31, and her 3 month old baby Bridget touch land after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico on Wednesday
A group of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arrive in the United States Wednesday
Law enforcement registers a group of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador Wednesday
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (left) told Fox News Channel that he requested a classified briefing on the two Yemeni nationals that were caught coming into the U.S. through Mexico and he invited Vice President Kamala Harris (right) to attend
Vice President Kamala Harris has jetted all over the U.S. without visiting the U.S.-Mexico border
Two men from Yemen, a 26-year old (left) and a 33-year-old (right) were intercepted by Custom and Border Patrol agents assigned to the El Centro Station in Calexico, California, on March 30
A lost migrant child, crying and scared, was found by a Border Patrol agent on his way home. The boy said he was abandoned by the group he was with
Still, Harris has taken flak for traveling elsewhere around the country and not seeing the overwhelmed southern border facilities herself.
Images of migrants crossing the Rio Grande have poured in every day, as video of a lost migrant child who a Border Patrol agent encountered on his way home went viral.
Additionally, on Monday, Customs and Border Patrol announced that two unnamed Yemeni men on the terror watch list – one 33, the other 26 – had been detained over the last three months in the Calexico area of California.
‘So we know people on the terrorist watch list are coming into America,’ McCarthy said, pointing to the announcement. ‘How are they coming in? How many do we assume go through that we did not catch? Why were they on the watch list? What were they doing coming into the country? Do we have any intel based upon what did they have planned once they entered the country? Who were they going to meet up wiht?’
McCarthy said he also requested the FBI-CIA briefing would be shared with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, both Democrats, and his Republican counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The captures were made by CBP agents assigned to the El Centro Station.
CBP said in a statement on Monday that the two men were on a U.S. government watchlist for terrorism suspects, and were also named on a ‘no-fly’ list.
‘Part of the Border Patrol’s mission states we will protect the country from terrorists,’ said Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino.
‘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.’
The news was seized upon by Republicans, who are using the current surge in migrant arrivals to attack Joe Biden, and who have always warned that terrorists could be among those entering illegally and evading detection.
Additionally, an El Salvadorean gang member was among the migrants detained by the Border Patrol in the early hours of Wednesday.
The unnamed 28-year-old was described by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as ‘a documented MS-13 gang member,’ Fox News reported.
The gang was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s, and then mixed with California prison gang culture and was exported to El Salvador. There are currently believed to be around 10,000 MS-13 members in the United States, out of 1.4 million known gang members in the country.
Former President Donald Trump described the group, known for its savagery, as ‘animals’ and frequently referenced them when discussing migration.
Migrants, departing from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are seen after crossing the Rio Grande River, in Texas, overnight
The number of migrants trying to cross the Mexican border to the USA jumped to 171,000 in March, the highest monthly number since 2006
A group of almost 200 migrants was found by the Border Patrol in Texas on Tuesday morning
A group of migrants is detained by the Border Patrol in Penitas, Texas, on March 27
Border Patrol agents are seen arresting people in Penitas, Texas, on March 27
Migrants have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in higher numbers over the past few months, including over 170,000 people in March alone, the largest single-month total in well over a decade.
A large number are unaccompanied minors, which has forced the administration to open its tenth temporary housing facility to accommodate these young arrivals.
The vast majority of adults are immediately sent back to Mexico.
The border patrol say they are currently detaining around 5,000 people a day.
The U.S. government does not release data on terrorist detentions along the border with Mexico: in 2018 the figure was given as six by Axios, and around a dozen by CNN.
In January 2018, a joint report by the Homeland Security and Justice departments stated that Homeland Security had 2,554 ‘encounters’ worldwide with people on a watch list who were trying to travel to the U.S.
Of them, 2,170 were trying to come by air, with 335 by land and the rest by sea.
In 2019, Trump declared during a Rose Garden speech: ‘We have terrorists coming through the southern border because they find that’s probably the easiest place to come through. They drive right in and they make a left.’
Migrants cross the Rio Bravo river to turn themselves in on March 30 in El Paso, Texas
A family from Haiti crosses the Rio Grande on March 30 to claim asylum in the U.S.
Todd Bensman, an analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors less immigration and stronger defenses against terrorist infiltration, estimated in 2019 that around 20 terrorist suspects are detained at the U.S.-Mexico border every year.
The first suspect, aged 33, was apprehended January 29 approximately at 1:10am local time after he tried to cross the border illegally about three miles west from the Calexico Port of Entry.
Agents discovered a cellular phone sim card hidden inside the insole of his shoe.
A second individual, 26, was picked up by agents on March 30 at approximately 11:30pm.
A CBP spokesperson contacted by DailyMail.com declined to provide the names of the men.
The government does not disclose how many people are on the no-fly list, although in June 2016 Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said that there were around 81,000 people on the list, of whom fewer than 1,000 were U.S. citizens.
Migrant children play near the border fence in Tijuana, Mexico, on April 2
Migrants board a van at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mission, Texas, on Sunday
Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, wracked by decades of civil war, is described by UN as suffering from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Four million people have been forced from their homes.
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.
McCarthy traveled to the southern border March 15 and told reporters that after meeting with Border Patrol agents, he had learned that individuals with links to terror organizations were rushing the border.
‘It’s not just people from Mexico or Honduras or El Salvador,’ he said.
‘They’re now finding people from Yemen, Iran, Turkey. People on the terrorist watch list they are catching, and they’re rushing in all at once.’
Republicans have criticized Biden for easing some restrictions put in place by the former president as the number of border crossings has risen in recent months.
The watchlist is maintained by the 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.
Overall, few migrants caught crossing the southern border match people on the FBI’s terror watchlist, a U.S. official told Reuters.
Kamala’s schedule since becoming ‘Border Czar’
March 25 – Washington DC: Virtual Passover
March 26 – New Haven, Connecticut: meeting with Boys and Girls Club and education leaders
March 27-28 – Washington DC: no public commitments
March 29 – Washington DC: Covid briefing and delivering pandemic remarks
March 30 – Washington DC: Signed the PPP extension into law and spoke with Guatemalan President
April 1 – Washington DC/Los Angeles, California: Met with stakeholders before traveling to her Brentwood home
April 2-4 – Los Angeles: At home with no public commitments
April 5 – Oakland, California: Met Gavin Newsom, toured water treatment plant and met business leaders
April 6 – Chicago, Illinois: Toured a Covid vaccination site before returning to Washington DC
The libertarian CATO Institute said that from 1975 through 2017, seven people who entered the U.S. illegally from ‘special interest’ countries — states tied at least loosely to terrorism — were convicted of planning attacks on U.S. soil.
None crossed from Mexico. They came from Canada or jumped ship in U.S. ports, and all before special interest countries were classified as such.
The plots were foiled and no one was hurt.
The only known terrorists who crossed illegally from Mexico in those decades were three ethnic Albanians from Macedonia who came as children with their parents in 1984 and, in their 20s, were arrested in the foiled plot to attack the Fort Dix, New Jersey, Army base in 2007, the CATO study found. They were not from a special-interest country.
On Wednesday the White House defended Vice President Kamala Harris for having not yet visited the border, which she is supposedly overseeing.
During Wednesday’s briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the vice president’s recent travel to Chicago, as opposed to the southern border.
‘She hasn’t visited the border or Central America or spoken with leaders of El Salvador or Honduras,’ New York Post reporter Steven Nelson pointed out to Psaki. ‘She was traveling this week, took time to visit a bakery in Chicago. I’m wondering, is she still working on this and can you address the perception that she’s sort of quietly backing off while Secretary Mayorkas is pursuing some Trump-era policies?’
While in the Windy City, Harris visited a local bakery.
‘I would say the vice president was visiting Chicago to talk about COVID and the importance of communities getting the vaccine when it is available and accessible to them,’ Psaki explained.
‘While she was there, like many Americans, she got a snack. I think she’s allowed to do that.’