The sudden arrival of a family of eight Syrians at the border in Laredo, Texas just days after the Paris massacre sparked a brief but furious Internet storm Thursday after it was reported they were trying to sneak into the U.S. from Mexico.
"Eight Syrians were just caught on the southern border trying to get into the U.S. ISIS maybe? I told you so," GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted. "WE NEED A BIG A BEAUTIFUL WALL."
Soon other Republicans were chiming in about the supposed threat on our southern border.
But the Department of Homeland Security told NBC News the Syrians were regular migrants who made no attempt to evade U.S. authorities.
The two sets of parents and four children "presented themselves at the port of entry in Laredo" and told agents from Customs and Border Protection they wanted to enter the country, officials said.
The Syrians were taken into custody, questioned, and then turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they said.
The mothers and their four kids were transferred to the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilly, officials said. The dads were dispatched to the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall, Tex., where they now face the “standard immigration review process.”
Trump's call for sealing-off the Mexican border and keeping illegal immigrants out by building a massive wall helped turn him into the GOP front-runner. And in the wake of the bloody terrorist attacks in France, GOP lawmakers have demanded a halt to the Obama administration's plans to resettle some 10,000 Syrian escapees from the brutal civil war raging in their country.
"There is a process for coming to our country legally," Trump spokesman Hope Hicks said. "Anyone who doesn't follow that process should be turned away, especially given heightened national security concerns. We must protect and provide for American families first."
Breitbart.com, a right-leaning news website, reported that the Syrians were "apprehended" Monday at the Juarez Lincoln Bridge in Laredo. The report cited two anonymous federal agents as sources.
U.S. Border Patrol agents says its not unusual to find immigrants from the Middle East at the Mexican border. And on Wednesday, Honduran authorities reported that they arrested five Syrians after they flew into that nation's capital using stolen Greek passports.
Honduran authorities said they believed the men were seeking to immigrate to the U.S. and had no connection to terrorism.
"They are normal Syrians," said Aníbal Baca, a spokesman for the national Police Investigation Department.