Border patrol stopped six immigrants suspected of terrorism in first half of 2018: NBC

Border patrol stopped a total of six migrants suspected of terrorism in the first half of 2018, according to data obtained by NBC News, casting doubt on recent claims from the White House that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stopped nearly 4,000 “known or suspected terrorists” at the U.S.-Mexico border last year. 

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers The 'accidental director' on the front line of the fight for election security MORE earlier on Monday told reporters that the number was classified, according to the news outlet.

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Border agents stopped a total of 41 people on the Terrorist Screening Database between Oct. 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018, according to numbers reviewed by NBC. Thirty-five of those were lawful permanent residents or citizens of the U.S., while the other six were not "non-U.S. persons," according to the data. 

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders over the weekend claimed that "nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally" on "Fox News Sunday."

Fox News's Chris Wallace responded by citing a recent State Department report, which said there has been no “credible evidence” of terrorists crossing the southern border from Mexico.

The data obtained by NBC covers the first half of fiscal 2018. 

The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill's requests for comment.

Automated emails to The Hill from CBP indicated the agency's press spokespeople are out of the office due to a lapse in funding stemming from the partial government shutdown. The shutdown on Monday hit its 17th day. 

"I will be out of the office starting Dec 22, 2018, due to the current federal funding hiatus," the CBP emails from two spokespeople read. "I will not be able to return emails or telephone calls until I return to duty upon conclusion of the funding hiatus." 

CBP encountered 91 people listed in the terrorism database at the northern border in the first half of 2018, including 41 who were not U.S. citizens or residents, NBC reported.

The White House has raised concerns about the threat posed by "terrorists" crossing the border in order to justify President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE's demand for more than $5 billion to fund a wall, which triggered the shutdown as Democrats decline to offer the funding.