FOX 5 San Diego

Afghan on terror watch list reportedly arrested near San Diego border

OTAY MESA, Calif. — An Afghan national on the terror watchlist was arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, according to reports.

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond confirmed the arrest, saying his office heard of the incident on Wednesday.

While details on the arrest are few, he said that the apprehension took place after the individual attempted to cross the border alongside a group of migrants near Otay Mesa and appeared to have happened prior to the expiration of Title 42.

“This should serve as a stark reminder to President Biden and the Federal Government on the critical need for maintaining a strong border,” Desmond said of the reported arrest.

The identity of the suspected terrorist, what they are wanted for and the circumstances that led to their arrest are not known at this time. It is also not known how they got to the San Diego border.

FOX 5 reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation after rumors about the arrest in the San Diego sector of Customs and Border Protection began circulating on social media. They declined to comment on the specific inquiry in a statement.

“We are vigilant in our efforts to detect and assess possible threats and we work closely with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to keep our communities safe,” the FBI said in their statement.

This arrest comes after thousands of migrants gathered along the southern border to seek asylum in the United States in the days leading up to Title 42’s end.

Title 42 was a pandemic-era policy that allowed U.S. officials to turn away most migrants who came to the U.S. as a means of preventing the spread of COVID-19. The policy expired on Thursday at 9 p.m. along the West Coast.

As of Sunday, hundreds of migrants, including women and children, are still waiting to be processed, enduring difficult conditions with little food, water or other supplies.

Desmond stated that a secure and efficient immigration system that prioritizes background checks before entry into the U.S. should remain a top priority for the federal government.

“As a nation, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to protect the safety and security of our citizens,” Desmond said. “A strong and orderly border process is crucial in preventing individuals with nefarious intentions from entering our country.”

On Monday, FOX 5 spoke with Desmond about some of his concerns moving forward — specifically, the scarcity of resources at the border to process asylum seekers that arrived there in the weeks leading up to the end of Title 42.

“Our Border Patrol, who have been doing a phenomenal job, are very short on resources,” Desmond said. “There’s been so many asylum-seekers coming across since (before) Title 42 was lifted.”

“I’m glad they caught him. I’m very happy the system worked for that,” he continued. “(But,) he probably thought he could get across without being noticed because of the onslaught and how stretched our resources are.”

FOX 5’s Elizabeth Alvarez contributed to this story.