GOP Leaders Highlight Threat of Islamic State Infiltrating Southern Border

Southern Border Guillermo AriasAP
Guillermo Arias/AP

The recent border apprehensions of Syrian nationals highlight that terrorists could enter the U.S. illegally via the country’s southwest border, the Chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees warn.

“Given ISIS’s avowed aim of attacking Americans on our own soil and its unconcealed plan to masquerade its terror operatives as Syrians fleeing their country, it is clear that any border apprehensions of putative Syrians presenting fraudulent identification documents is a matter of grave concern,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson this week.

In recent weeks reports have revealed several incidents of Syrian nationals, some using fraudulent passports, attempting to enter the U.S. illegally.

These attempts have occurred as the lawmakers consider the national security implications of moving forward with the Obama administration’s plan to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees in the U.S. amid a lack of vetting data and indications from ISIS that it will infiltrate the refugee process.

In their letter to Johnson, dated Tuesday, Goodlatte and Grassley point to the reports about the apprehension of five Syrian men with fraudulent Greek passports in Honduras planning to enter the U.S., the six Syrians arrested in Laredo, TX on November 17, and another report about a Syrian woman arrested in Costa Rica pretending to be a Greek citizen.

“These incidents reflect a concerted effort by Syrians to evade inspection and illegally enter the United States,” the pair wrote. “Of course, these cases represent only those Syrians who were actually apprehended. Undoubtedly, others have evaded detection and succeeded in illegally entering the United States.”

Goodlatte and Grassley in their missive press the administration for more information about “Special Interest Aliens” who entered or attempted to enter the country at land, air, or sea borders from March 15, 2011 on from “entering or attempting to enter the United States at a land, air, or sea border on or after March 15, 2011. Such aliens include those from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.”

“Over the last week, Administration officials have consistently stated, including in testimony to Congress, that, ‘Applicants to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program are currently subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States,’” they wrote. “Such a fact makes it even more important to know whether Syrians apprehended attempting to enter the U.S. illegally have been allowed by this Administration to remain in the U.S. and have been provided immigration benefits.