EXCLUSIVE: Syrian, Russian Migrants Apprehended at West Texas Border

Del Rio Sector Border Patrol agents apprehend a large group of mostly Venezuelan migrants near Eagle Pass, Texas. (U.S. Border Patrol/Del Rio Sector)
U.S. Border Patrol/Del Rio Sector

EAGLE PASS, Texas — Border Patrol agents arrested two significant interest aliens at one of the busiest migrant crossing points on the southwest border Wednesday, along with hundreds of mostly Central and South American family units.

According to a source within Customs and Border Protection, the Syrian and Russian migrants are single adult males and their purpose for entering is still under investigation. The source says the Syrian adds to the nearly 50 special interest aliens apprehended in the area since October 2021.

Although not a country on the Department of Homeland Security’s list of special interest countries, Russia is designated as a Country of Particular Concern by the Department of State. Under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998,  the President is required to annually review the status of religious freedom in every country and designate those engaged in or tolerating “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

The law defines particularly severe violations as “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom,” including violations such as: torture, prolonged detention without charges, forced disappearance, or other flagrant denial of life, liberty, or security of persons.

Russia was designated by the State Department in November 2021. The source says the increase in apprehension of Special Interest Aliens (SIA) and those from CPC countries is cause for concern. The intent of such migrants, according to the source, is more difficult to determine than those who enter for mostly economic reasons.

The designation of SIA is related to the travel pattern and conditions within the home country, rather than specific threats. According to DHS, the designation of SIA is different than the designation of an individual migrant known or suspected of terrorism. The terms “Special Interest Alien” and “Known or Suspected Terrorist” (KST) are not interchangeable.

This fiscal year, the source says migrants from Eritrea, Uzbekistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Syria, and Russia have been encountered crossing the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass. The source says the migrants within this grouping usually attempt to elude apprehension as the Border Patrol contends with processing, transportation, and caring for nearly a thousand migrants who chose to surrender daily within the sector.

As reported by Breitbart Texas, the Del Rio Sector has led the eight other southwest sectors in migrant apprehensions in January.

Until recently, the Rio Grande Valley Sector held the top position in migrant apprehensions since 2013.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.

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