House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is asking for a briefing on “foreign nationals” on the Terrorism Watch List who have been apprehended while trying to cross the southern border.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director William Burns on Tuesday requesting a classified briefing on the matter, he wrote, “I have learned of the apprehension of foreign nationals on the Terrorism Watch List who were attempting to illegally cross our southern border.”
“This highlights the ongoing national security risk posed by the border crisis,” he added.
McCarthy said he would like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to attend the briefing. He also noted that Vice President Kamala Harris has been “appointed by the president to lead the government’s efforts on the border crisis” and said he would like to “extend an invitation” to her.
“I hope she, along with Congressional leaders, could benefit from this briefing,” McCarthy said.
The California Republican noted that he traveled to El Paso, Texas, with 12 other members of Congress in March to “see firsthand the humanitarian crisis and security crisis” at the border.
“The agents of the U.S. Border Patrol provided us with an eye-opening tour and briefings regarding the current crisis in El Paso and the operational challenges they face each day. […] The agents conveyed to us that they have apprehended individuals from not only Mexico and Central America, but also countries including China, Iran, Yemen, and Turkey. They then conveyed that they had apprehended individuals who are on the Terrorism Watch List.”
Read the statement below:
READ ⬇️ I just sent this letter to FBI Director Wray and CIA Director Burns requesting a briefing on individuals on the Terrorism Watch List detained at our southern border.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) April 6, 2021
This proves what Democrats have denied for weeks: Biden’s border crisis is a national security threat. pic.twitter.com/MnYLVdp6z1
During the trip to the border, McCarthy told reporters, “They’re now finding people from Yemen, Iran, Turkey. People on the terrorist watch list they are catching, and they’re rushing in all at once.”
At the time, his comments were met with skepticism by Democrats, who noted they had not seen any intelligence to back up his claims.
Chairman of the House subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) tweeted, “Weird as the Chairman of the subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations and a border state member of Congress haven’t heard anything about this. Gonna ask for a briefing. Pretty sure he is either wrong or lying.”
“I have the same security clearance as you do. Can you have your office arrange for a classified briefing for members to see where this info is derived from?” he wrote in a separate tweet.
McCarthy noted that Democrats accused him of lying. However, he said, “Staff from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed the accuracy of my comments, and further reporting provided greater insight into the situation. In fact, the threat has only grown.”
Shortly after his comments, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reportedly confirmed to Congress that since Oct. 1, four individuals were arrested at the border whose names matched suspects on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database.
Additionally, in a since-deleted news release on Monday, the agency said it had apprehended two Yemeni men who were on the terror watchlist of the last two months at the border.
A spokesperson for CPB told The Washington Examiner it deleted the release because it was “not properly reviewed and contained certain disclosure and policy information related to national security that required CBP to remove it from our website.”
McCarthy ended his letter by expressing his gratitude for CPB agents. However, he noted that about 1,000 people “each day are evading capture.”
He added, “I have great concern about the number of bad actors that have escaped arrest and are residing in the United States. We simply have no way of knowing if other terrorists have crossed the border undetected.”