Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace challenged White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders over the Trump Administration's claim that thousands of terrorists are coming over the U.S.-Mexico border to justify wanting to build a wall along it.
“Let’s talk about the wall. The president talks about terrorists potentially coming across the border," Wallace said, before playing a clip showing Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen claiming there have been over "3,000 special interest aliens" who were stopped by U.S. border patrol agents.
"But special interest aliens are just people who have come from countries that have ever produced a terrorist, they’re not terrorists themselves," Wallace pointed out.
Wallace also cited a July 2017 U.S. State Department report that reads, "There are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory, and no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States."
Sanders then replied, "We know that roughly nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally, and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border.”
Wallace was prepared for the "4,000" number, and said he "studied up" on it. He told Sanders the 4,000 people are captured at airports, not the border.
"Not always, but certainly a large number," Sanders said as Wallace continued to cite the State Department's own reports.
"The state department says there hasn’t been any terrorists found coming across the southern border from Mexico," Wallace told her.
"Certainly it's by air, by land and it's by sea," Sanders said. "It's all of the above. But one thing that you're forgetting is that the most vulnerable point of entry that we have into this country is our southern border and we have to protect it."
"But they're not coming across the southern border, Sarah," Wallace said. "They're being stopped at airports."
Sanders insisted she was not "disagreeing" with Wallace that suspected terrorists come through airports.
“I’m saying that they come by air by land and by sea, and the more and more that our border becomes vulnerable and the less and less that we spend time and money protecting it, the more that we’re going to have an influx, not just of terrorists, but of human traffickers, drug inflow and people who are coming here to do American citizens harm," Sanders told Wallace.
In December, Trump claimed the U.S. "caught 10 terrorists" trying to cross the border, but four government sources told Reuters there was no evidence of this.
President Trump has demanded $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and refused to sign legislation to re-open the government if it does not include it. On Saturday afternoon, the president tweeted that Vice President Mike Pence met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's representatives and there was "not much headway" made in talks.0comments
The government shutdown is entering its third week. Trump has said the shutdown could last "months or even years" if he does not get money for the wall.
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