Claim: 8 Syrians were caught sneaking into the United States.
WHAT’S TRUE: Two Syrian families seeking political asylum presented themselves to authorities at the US-Mexico border. WHAT’S FALSE: 8 Syrians with ties to ISIS were caught sneaking across the US-Mexico border.
Example: [Collected via Twitter, November 2015]
Origins: On 19 November 2015, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted that eight Syrians were “caught” at the southern border of the United States. The real estate mogul also insinuated that the Syrians may have ties to ISIS and that the incident was proof that the United States needed to build a border wall.
A similar message was posted by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, along with a link to an article published by the web site Breitbart:
EXCLUSIVE — CONFIRMED: 8 Syrians Caught at Texas Border in Laredo
Two federal agents operating under the umbrella of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are claiming that eight Syrian illegal aliens attempted to enter Texas from Mexico in the Laredo Sector.
Trump, Abbott and Breitbart were correct in stating that eight Syrians recently tried to enter the United States via the southern border, but assertions the individuals were “caught” trying to enter the country illegally, posed a security treat, or had ties to the ISIS organization were misleading.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, two Syrian families (consisting of two men, two women, and four children in total) “presented” themselves to authorities at a port of entry in Laredo:
“DHS confirms that on Tuesday, members of two Syrian families, two men, two women and four children, presented themselves at a port of entry in Laredo. They were taken into custody by CBP and turned over to ICE for further processing. The two adult women and four children were transferred to the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. The two men from these families are being held at the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall Texas. Due to privacy issues, no additional information will be provided at this time.”
In other words, the Syrian families were not attempting to “sneak” into the United States illegally and they were not “caught” by authorities. According to a local NBC affiliate station, authorities also did not consider these eight Syrians to be a security threat:
The Border Patrol said in a statement that it “checked their identities against numerous law enforcement and national security related databases” and found no “derogatory information” about the individuals. They remain in federal custody.
While 8 Syrians were detained while attempting to enter the United States, they were not caught while attempting to enter the country illegally.
Last updated: 22 November 2015
Originally published: 22 November 2015