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ICE sounds alarm on what migrants are failing to bring to border as fears mount after ISIS arrests

The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has warned that it is “fairly common” for information about illegal immigrants arriving at the southern border not to be recorded, after authorities arrested eight Tajik nationals with ties to ISIS who allegedly crossed the southern border.

ICE Acting Director Patrick Reckleitner was asked about the arrests of the eight foreign nationals in an interview with NewsNation.

All eight Tajik nationals are alleged to have crossed the U.S. southern border illegally, and no information was initially reported to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) during the investigation process, according to a federal official familiar with the operation.

Authorities arrest eight suspected ISIS-linked terrorists in multi-city sting operations

Patrick Reckleitner, Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testifies at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Homeland Security, at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2024. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A federal source told Fox News that the terrorism suspect was “thoroughly investigated” and no warnings were issued. The source said that after the terrorism suspect was released into the US, warnings were issued about information that raised national security concerns, such as ties between the individual and ISIS.

In an interview with NewsNation, Lechleiter said that when Border Patrol conducts background checks, “sometimes there’s no information about the individual at all.”

“It’s common that they have nothing, they have nothing. These individuals have no criminal history, no information that poses a threat. Or, these individuals are from areas of particular concern, but sometimes that surfaces later when we get information,” he said.

Mass apprehensions of illegal immigrants from China, Jordan and Türkiye at southern border

“And just like in this case, as soon as we learned of the information, we went out and worked with the FBI to get the information.”

DHS and the FBI issued a joint statement on the matter earlier this week.

Border Immigration San Diego

Migrants line up at the southern border in San Diego on June 6, 2024. (Fox News)

“Over the past few days, ICE officers have arrested several aliens at the direction of immigration authorities,” the statement said. “This action was conducted in close coordination with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Those arrested are being held in ICE detention facilities while awaiting deportation proceedings.”

“As the FBI and Department of Homeland Security have stated recently in public and partner bulletins, the United States is in an elevated threat environment. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with our partners, will continue to work around the clock to identify, investigate, and disrupt potential threats to our national security.”

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Reckleitner’s comments are the latest warning from administration officials about the potential dangers of infiltration at the border. Earlier this year, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned of “a wide range of very dangerous threats emanating from the border.”

“I want to be a little careful about how much I say in public session,” Wray told senators in March, “but there is a particular network where some of the overseas intermediaries in the smuggling network have ties to ISIS that we’re very concerned about and we’re spending a lot of effort investigating with our partners. What exactly that network is trying to do is also the subject of our ongoing investigation.”

Former ICE chief of staff John Fehr told Fox News Digital that vetting people entering the US is difficult, even if they are here legally on a visa, but especially if they are in illegally.

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“When a random person shows up at the border, undocumented and unidentified, our first instinct is not to just allow them into the United States, and in many cases we will have to make the tough decision to deny them entry,” Fehle said.

“When you have small numbers, the odds that bad people will come in are low. But when you’re dealing with large numbers of illegal immigrants, as we’re experiencing now, the odds that bad people will come in are high, and the threat this administration has created will be felt for years to come.”

Fehr, now with the Center for Immigration Studies, also criticized other agencies for allowing people into the U.S. and then expecting ICE to handle the results.

“There’s an expectation that, ‘Well, let’s let them come in and hope ICE will sort it out.’ And then when something bad happens and ICE doesn’t find them in time, too often the blame seems to be pointed at ICE,” he said.

Fox News’ Stephanie Price and Bill Melugin contributed to this report.