White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed the risk of terrorists exploiting the porous southern border on Tuesday, saying instances like the recent apprehension of two Yemeni men on the FBI watchlist at the US border are ”uncommon.”
She was responding to a question at her daily press briefing about whether President Biden was worried that terrorists would use gaps in the border to enter the country and kill Americans.
“First, let me convey that these types of incidents are very uncommon,” she answered, adding that the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection would have more details about the arrests.
“But encounters of known and suspected terrorists are very uncommon. They do underscore the importance of the critical work that is done on a daily basis to vet those at the border,” Psaki said.
“DHS works, not just at the border … but also with international partners to share intelligence and other information including to prevent individuals on certain watchlists from entering the United States,” she said.
“So while this is rare. This is a reflection of them doing their jobs,” Psaki said.
Federal officials announced the arrests of the two Yemeni men Monday, saying they were picked up earlier this year as they tried to illegally enter the US from Mexico.
The men, 33 and 26 but not identified by name, were arrested near the Calexico Port of Entry in California.
A mobile phone SIM card was found under the insole of the older man’s shoe.
Both men were on the government’s “no-fly” list.
The terror watchlist includes people who are “known to be or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activities,” according to the FBI.