Amid a gathering mass-migration crisis on the southern border comes a U.S. Customs and Border Protection announcement Monday that two Yemeni nationals who illegally crossed from Mexico into California were already on the FBI's terrorism watch list before their arrivals. The agency removed the statement within 24 hours with no explanation, but too late:
One of the Yemenis, it said, also was on the FBI's rarified No Fly list, normally reserved for individuals that U.S. intelligence deems highly dangerous, and had secreted a cell phone sim card in his shoe insole. The press release gave few further details, as an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation continues. But the nation's chief Border Patrol agent seemed to understand the import.
"Part of the Border Patrol's mission states we will protect the country from terrorists," Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino said in a prepared statement for the press release. "Today, like every other day, our agents did that."
CPB said the release "was not properly reviewed and contained certain disclosure and policy information related to national security that required CBP to remove it from our website."
Absent much more context and better information, this short-lived official confirmation seems likely only to confuse an American public that has heard media fact-checkers and Democratic lawmakers for years assert that terrorist border crossings do not really happen. Indeed, the revoked press release landed even before the dust had settled from the latest such public argument over whether terrorist infiltration is a real threat; media organizations like the Washington Post carried stories last month ridiculing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for relaying information about three Yemeni terror suspects and one Serb recently caught after illegal crossings into New Mexico. A broader public understanding of just how often terrorist suspects like these Yemenis cross has become especially pertinent as the government's border management systems teeter under historic, sharply escalating numbers of largely Spanish-speaking peoples making illegal entry — with 66,000 Border Patrol encounters in January, 101,000 in February, 171,000 in March and far more expected in April and on through the summer months.
So what can be truthfully said of this contentious threat issue?
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