DHS Secretary: About 70 Terrorists Try to Enter the US Daily

Melanie Arter | February 6, 2018 | 12:07pm EST
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President Donald Trump flanked by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan (Screenshot of White House video)

(CNSNews.com) - During a Customs and Border Protection roundtable in Sterling, Va., Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Friday that about 70 terrorists try to get into the United States each day through some mode of transportation.

“As you heard on the watch floor, we have about 70 terrorists a day that we see trying to get here through some method of transportation. That's 500 a week, 2,000 a year. So needless to say, these men and women are very busy every day watching, not just cargo, but passengers and other sorts of traffic,” Nielsen said.


However, the secretary’s calculation understates how many terrorists try to enter the country each year. If 70 terrorists try to enter the U.S. daily, that’s about 500 a week, and 26,000 a year.

So according to the secretary’s daily statistical average, in reality, more than 10 times the number of terrorists she stated in her 2,000 yearly figure try to enter the U.S. each year.

During the roundtable, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said that although the number of border crossings “dropped dramatically” early in the Trump administration, the numbers are increasing each month due to the illegal border crossings of family units and unaccompanied children (UAC).

McAleenan told President Donald Trump “the story of why we need to continue to invest in border security, as well as closing the legal loopholes in our immigration system.”

“The numbers that you see here, sir, you can see the arrests at the border of people trying to cross illegally; they dropped dramatically early in your administration after your Inauguration. The intelligence and interviews we've conducted indicate that that was because concern that the enforcement posture had changed at the border under your leadership,” he said.

“As you can see, we had a low of about 10,000 back in April of this year, but we've started to see the numbers come up each month, and especially in two significant portions of this population: family units and unaccompanied children,” McAleenan said.

He said the other factor is “an increasing number coming to our ports of entry - not even trying to cross the border illegally, but coming to our ports and presenting and claiming asylum in that route.”

“This is due to the fact that these groups can take advantage of loopholes in our legislation, court decisions, as well congestion in the asylum and immigration court processes that my colleagues here will give you a briefing on,” McAleenan said.

“At the same time, and very concerningly, we've seen a marked increase in hardened smugglers attempting to bring hard narcotics across our borders and into our communities, and we've had increases that you can see here in every category -- cocaine; heroin; methamphetamines, significantly; and, obviously, fentanyl -- a very significantly potent, synthetic opioid that's involved in so many overdoses in the United States,” he said.

McAleenan reported that there’s been a 45 percent increase in assaults on Customs and Border Patrol agents. When Trump asked why, McAleenan named two reasons: an increase in narcotics and the increased from of families and unaccompanied children.

“Well, we think there's two reasons. One, we've got this increase in narcotics. We've gotten more effective at securing our border, and so we're dealing with a more determined, a more sophisticated, and a more dangerous population with these smugglers crossing, at the same time as we're seeing this increased flow of families and unaccompanied children,” he said.

“So we really believe these dual trends require investments both in smart border security, like a border wall system, but also closing the legal loopholes that we face in our immigration ---” McAleenan said.

“So and where are the drugs coming from? Mostly the cocaine, heroin, meth -- where's it coming from?” Trump asked.

McAleenan said the cocaine is produced in South America - “in Colombia and Peru primarily, trafficked up through Central America or on maritime means into Mexico, and coming across our land border, primarily.”

“We also see significant heroin production in Mexico, with opium poppy growth in Mexico, then produced, and then the fentanyl and the synthetics are coming from China, usually through our land border or through mail and express consignment. Those are the vectors we need to shut down, and it's both between ports of entry with Border Patrol, but also at our ports of entry with CBP officers,” he said.

“And what are Mexico and Colombia and these other countries -- what are they doing about it?  Nothing?” Trump asked.

“Actually, sir, we're partnering closely with these governments to increase their effectiveness. In Mexico, in particular --” McAleenan said.

“Do you think they're really trying?” Trump asked.

“Well, I think we've had a significant improvement in our dialogue and in our effectiveness with Mexican law enforcement and the military in the last year,” McAleenan said.

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