Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace came prepared to confront White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when she attempted to push a debunked Trump administration talking point about terrorism and the southwestern border of the United States.
Wallace played a clip of Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen claiming on Friday that Customs and Border Patrol “has stopped over 3,000 what we call special interest aliens trying to come into the country on the southern border. Those are aliens who the Intel community has identified are of concern.”
“But special interest aliens are just people who have come from countries that have ever produced a terrorist, they’re not terrorists themselves,” Wallace said, and added that “the state department says, quote, ‘there were no credible evidence of any terrorist coming across the border from Mexico,’” citing a report that was released in September.
“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 southern border,” Sanders began.
“I know the statistic, I didn’t know if you were going to use it, but I studied up on this,” Wallace interrupted. “Do you know what those 4,000 people come where they are captured? Airports.”
“Not always…” Sanders said.
“Airports. The state department says there hasn’t been any terrorists found coming across the southern border,” Wallace said.
“It’s by air it’s by land it’s by sea, it’s all of the above,” Sanders said, “but one thing that you’re forgetting is at the most vulnerable point of entry that we have into this country is our southern border. You have to protect it, and the more and more that individuals know that…”
“But they’re not coming across the southern border, Sarah, they’re coming and they’re being stopped at airports,” Wallace again interrupted.
“They’re coming a number of ways, they’re certainly, I’m not disagreeing with you that they’re coming through airports,” a flustered Sanders fired back. “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 and drug inflow.”
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) January 6, 2019
The Trump administration’s terrorism claims have been widely debunked by multiple news networks, including NBC News. On Friday, the news network reported that the 4,000 terrorists figure Sarah Sander cited on Friday seems to be based “on 2017 data, not 2018, and refers to stops made by Department of Homeland Security across the globe, mainly at airports.”
According to Justice Department public records and two former counterterrorism officials who spoke to NBC News, no immigrant has been arrested at the southwest border on terrorism charges in recent years.