Two separate reports of groups of America-bound Syrians detained below the U.S. southern border in recent days are raising concerns that Islamic State militants could be probing security – and stoking fears some may already be here.
Honduran authorities on Tuesday arrested five Syrians they said were headed for the U.S. with stolen or doctored Greek passports, but later said the men were college students fleeing war at home. On the same day and 1,800 miles north, two Syrian families were taken into custody at a border checkpoint in Texas.
“Members of two Syrian families, two men, two women and four children, presented themselves at a port of entry in Laredo,” a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman told FoxNews.com Thursday. “They were taken into custody by CBP and turned over to ICE for further processing.”
Although sources said it did not appear the Syrians nabbed at the U.S. border were trying to sneak in, word spread among Border Patrol agents, whose union leaders warned them to be extra vigilant.
“Our agents have heard about Syrians being apprehended in the area from other federal agents,” Border Patrol agent and National Border Patrol Council Local 2455 President Hector Garza told Breitbart news service, adding that the union “will be issuing an officer safety bulletin advising Border Patrol agents to exercise extra precautions as they patrol the border.”
The incidents came less than a week after the deadly attacks in Paris and as President Obama and mostly Republican lawmakers engaged in a heated debate over admitting Syrian refugees. Whether sneaking in illegally or entering the U.S. through the refugee program, Middle Eastern immigrants are raising fears that terrorist groups — including ISIS and Al Qaeda — could be planting sleeper cells in the U.S. to mount attacks like the coordinated ones in Paris last Friday that left 129 dead and hundreds more injured.