4,000 terrorists! Or 12, or 6, or zero—there's no legitimate claim that 'the wall' provides security
Donald Trump has been insisting that “the wall” is a national security issue. He’ll have to make that claim during his eight minutes of terror on Tuesday night if he actually wants to put any cash behind his declaration of a national emergency. To support that unsupportable position, Trump has been claiming that thousands of terrorists have been pouring over the southern border.
Desperate to provide some basis for Trump’s claims, the Department of Homeland security issued a “fact sheet” stating that “3,755 known or suspected terrorists tried to enter or travel to the United States in fiscal year 2017.” Sarah Sanders rounded up to 4,000 when repeating this claim in an interview.
But those numbers don’t have anything to do with the border. That’s the number from all points of entry, including not just Canada, but every airport in the nation. In fact, that includes every airport in the world. Because most of those who were stopped were stopped before they ever got on a flight. These aren’t dangerous people who were tackled crossing a U.S. border. They’re people who were simply denied a flight somewhere, anywhere, in the world.
Even then, it’s not a true statement that more than 3,000 terrorists were stopped. That’s everyone who was a known or suspected terrorist—including people whose only crime was displaying a “terroristic travel pattern.” Many of those “suspected terrorists” were stopped from entering the United States just because they came from, or visited, a place DHS considers terrorist-y, with no other evidence that they were in any way involved in terrorism. And even the “known terrorists” weren’t necessarily known terrorists, since many of these stops seemed to be cases of mistaken identity, with people stopped from traveling just because they shared all or part of a name with someone on the no-fly list.
If there was a wall across the southern border, and that wall somehow let in all the good people and stopped all the bad people, just how many bad people would that be?