President Trump on Wednesday seemed to suggest the deadly shooting at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, is evidence that the United States needs stronger border security.
“Another very bad terror attack in France,” Trump tweeted. “We are going to strengthen our borders even more. Chuck and Nancy must give us the votes to get additional Border Security!”
Witnesses said the gunman, identified by police as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, yelled out “Allahu Akbar” as he opened fire, killing at least two people and wounding seven others. Police believe Chekatt, a Strasbourg native, may have become radicalized while in jail.
Trump’s tweet came a day after he clashed with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi over funding for border security measures — including the president’s long-promised wall along the Southern border — during a contentious Oval Office meeting.
The president said he is willing to shut down the government if Democrats don’t appropriate funding for his proposal to provide $5 billion for a wall along the Mexico border next year.
At one point during their exchange, the president suggested — without evidence — that “10 terrorists” were recently apprehended trying to enter the United States.
“People are pouring into our country, including terrorists. We have terrorists. We caught 10 terrorists over the last very short period of time. Ten. These are very serious people,” Trump said. “Our border agents, all of our law enforcement has been incredible what they’ve done. But we caught 10 terrorists. These are people that were looking to do harm.”
The president followed up his claim about the terrorists by declaring “We need the wall.”
But officials from the Customs and Border Protection office could not provide evidence of any such apprehension. A spokesperson for the CBP pointed to comments made by an unnamed Department of Homeland Security official in a fact sheet that was distributed by the White House on Tuesday.
“On average last year, DHS prevented 10 individuals tied to terror — known or suspected terrorists — each day from traveling or attempting to travel to the United States. These are individuals that hit against U.S. terror watchlists,” the statement said.
However, this statistic is far different from the recent terrorism bust Trump described in the Oval Office. There are more than 1 million people on U.S. terror watchlists. This includes people suspected of having links to terrorism and some cases of mistaken identity. On some occasions, people are prevented from entering the country simply because their name and birthdate is similar to someone who is on the list.
It’s not the first time Trump has used overseas terror attacks to push his domestic agenda.
Last year, the president responded to reports of a terror attack in London with a tweetstorm touting his travel ban.
“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist,” Trump tweeted. “These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!
“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific,” he continued. “But stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”
As was the case in his response to the terror attack in France Wednesday, Trump offered no immediate condolences or messages of solidarity.
— With Hunter Walker contributing from Washington.
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