Kevin McCarthy Says Democrats Are 'In Denial' As CBP Detains Terror Suspects at Border

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is driving home national security concerns about the surge in arrivals at the southern border, after Customs and Border Protection confirmed that it had detained several individuals suspected of terrorism.

Republicans have long claimed that the southern border is an entry point for terrorists—notably ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. But there was no evidence for such assertions, with opponents skeptical given the inflammatory rhetoric of former President Donald Trump.

Axios reported on Tuesday, however, that the CBP had confirmed to Congress it had detained four people at the southern border whose names matched some of those on the FBI Terrorist Screening Database. All the detentions had taken place since October 1.

The database was created in 2003 and added to throughout the global War on Terror. The list includes people "known to be or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activities." As of 2017, there were some 1.16 million names on the list, including 4,600 Americans.

For McCarthy and other Republicans, the CBP report vindicates the right-wing warnings about terrorists passing through the southern border and Trump's hardline immigration policies. His strategy drew allegations of human rights abuses and has been cited by the Biden administration as the cause for the current situation.

"The crisis at the border is a national security vulnerability for the U.S.," McCarthy said on Twitter, sharing the Axios report. "As I said yesterday and Border Patrol confirmed today, they have caught individuals on the Terrorist Watch List attempting to enter our country."

"We must secure our border now," he added, echoing recent Republican demands.

"Democrats are in denial," McCarthy wrote in a later tweet. "There is a border crisis. CBP confirms terror suspects have been caught crossing the border."

The Biden administration has so far refused to use the word "crisis" when discussing the surge at the southern border. Border personnel and facilities are being overwhelmed by a spike in arrivals, with migrants hoping they will meet with a warmer welcome under the new administration.

The number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border is of particular concern. There are currently more than 4,000 such children being held in border facilities.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday: "We recognize this is a big problem—the last administration left us a dismantled and unworkable system. And like any other problem, we are going to do everything we can to solve it."

Biden, meanwhile, has urged migrants not to travel to the frontier. "I can say quite clearly: don't come," the president told ABC in an interview broadcast on Tuesday. "We're in the process of getting set up. Don't leave your town or city or community."

But the report on terrorist suspects will give a new edge to Republican attacks over the southern frontier, an issue that is helping GOP lawmakers shift attention away from their own refusal to back Biden's coronavirus relief package, internal party conflicts and efforts to undermine the November election results.

A tweet posted on Tuesday by inflammatory Fox News host Sean Hannity, for example, declared: "TERRORISTS CROSSING THE BORDER?" as a teaser for an evening interview with McCarthy.

CBP officials at border with Mexico
Customs and Border Protection officers turn back a person trying to cross into the U.S. on March 16 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. John Moore/Getty Images