As Republicans assail the Obama administration over its policy toward the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group, many in the party have seized on the group's rise to champion tighter border security, arguing ISIS fighters could soon infiltrate the U.S. via its southern border. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called such a scenario a "very real possibility." Fox News has joined Perry in fanning fears about ISIS border crossings, and Republican Senate candidates like North Carolina's Thom Tillis have cited ISIS in their calls for beefed-up border security.
Perhaps the most alarmist claim, however, came from GOP congressman Duncan Hunter, Jr. of California, who told Fox host Greta van Susteren last night that "[a]t least ten ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the border in Texas.” Pressed on how he knew this, Hunter replied that he'd "asked the Border Patrol."
The New Republic's Danny Vinik looked into the claim, asking the Department of Homeland Security for its comment. A DHS spokeswoman slammed Hunter's claim as "categorically false."
“The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,” the spokeswoman told The New Republic. “DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.”
U.S. officials and terrorism experts have determined that ISIS is not planning to launch attacks on American soil. Last month, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that there was "no credible information" that the group had designs on the U.S., echoing the assessment of other officials like U.S. counterterrorism chief Matthew Olsen. The consensus among U.S. officials and other experts is that ISIS is primarily concerned with holding territory it has amassed in Iraq and Syria, not instigating attacks in the U.S.