A group of 11 Iranian nationals was arrested by United States Customs and Border Protection agents on Monday evening after they illegally crossed the border from Mexico into Arizona, the agency announced late Wednesday.
According to a CBP press release, agents encountered five women and six men from Iran traveling in a group on a bridge near San Luis, Ariz., around 6 p.m. After determining the group had crossed the international border unlawfully, U.S. border patrol agents transported them to Yuma Station for processing.
Iran is considered a “special interest” country due to it’s relationship with terrorism, but CBP did not suggest anyone in the group was linked to terrorist activity.
“Yuma Sector agents regularly encounter people from all over the world, including Special Interest Countries. Agents adjudicate each arrest in accordance with law and policy in order to secure our nation’s borders,” the release said.
Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents had the most arrests of illegal crossers from Iran in the nation over the last two fiscal years, the release stated. In FY2020, eight Iranian nationals were arrested by Yuma agents, with just 14 apprehended in all other border sectors combined.
In FY2021, agents in Yuma have arrested 14 Iranians, so far.
“The primary mission of the Border Patrol is to prevent nefarious people and devices from entering the United States. Iran is a designated Special Interest Country and the agents of Yuma Sector work diligently to protect our borders for the safety of our nation,” the statement said. “Border security is national security.”
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order that terminated former-President Trump’s national emergency declaration of the United States’ southern border and canceled border wall funding, calling the project “not a serious policy solution.”
In the order, Biden said that while the United States has the right and duty to secure its borders and protect Americans from threats, a “massive wall that spans the entire southern border” is a “waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security.”
“My Administration is committed to ensuring that the United States has a comprehensive and humane immigration system that operates consistently with our Nation’s values,” the order stated. “In furtherance of that commitment, I have determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border in Proclamation 9844 of February 15, 2019 (Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Southern Border of the United States), was unwarranted. It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall. I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall.”