Sarah Huckabee Sanders is claiming that thousands of terrorists are crossing the Mexico border into the United States, but Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace challenged the claim in a contentious interview on Sunday.
Speaking to Wallace in an interview, Sanders defended a claim from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that thousands of “special interest aliens” have been stopped at the southern border. As the Hill noted, the Trump administration had tried to claim that these immigrants were terrorists, but Wallace pushed back against the false claim.
“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.
Wallace continued to press Sanders, saying that her own administration disagrees with the claim. He cited a State Department report contradicted the claim, finding that there was no “credible evidence” of terrorists crossing the southern border.
“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,” she answered.
But Wallace cut Sanders off, noting that the 4,000 suspected terrorists were not caught at the border but rather at airports. He reiterated the State Department report that no terrorists had crossed the southern border.
Donald Trump and members of his administration have cited security as the major reason for the border wall, but others have pushed back against the need for a physical wall. In an appearance on Sunday morning, incoming House Armed Services Committee chair Adam Smith said that Trump lacks understanding about border security if he thinks a concrete wall will stop illegal immigration.
“The wall is not in itself a bad idea,” Smith said, via the Hill. “It’s just that it’s been done. And what the president has not done is he has not made the case that on the portions of the border where a wall has not been built, how is a wall going to enhance border security? There is no evidence whatsoever that that’s necessary.”
It was actually Fox News that many cited as a major contributing cause of the current government shutdown over Trump’s demand for border wall funding. Trump had initially signaled to both Democrats and Republicans in December that he would sign a bill keeping the government temporarily open, but abruptly reversed course after receiving harsh criticism from right-wing media, primarily Fox News.