U.S. Border Patrol agents detained two men on a federal terrorism watchlist who attempted to cross the southern border illegally, the agency said in a statement on Monday.
USBP detained the first suspect on January 29 and the second on March 30, while they attempted to cross into the U.S. near the Calexico border crossing in southern California. Both suspects are Yemeni nationals and are on the FBI’s terrorism watchlist and no-fly list. The suspects have since been transferred to federal custody.
“Part of the Border Patrol’s mission states we will protect the country from terrorists,” Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino said in a statement. “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 latest announcement comes after the Border Patrol told Axios on March 16 that four men on the terrorism watchlist were detained between October 1, 2020 and March 2021. It was not immediately clear if the suspect detained on January 29 was included in the count provided to Axios.
“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,” USBP spokesman Justin Long told the Daily Caller.
The majority of migrants attempting to cross the southern border come from Mexico and Central America. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in March that the U.S. is “on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
The Border Patrol detained over 171,000 migrants in March. Of those, 18,800 were unaccompanied minors, breaking the previous one-month record of 11,861 migrant children detained in May 2019.