Is ISIS crossing the U.S.-Mexico border?

Posted at 5:23 PM, Mar 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 21:48:47-05

Arizona State Treasurer and Donald Trump’s state campaign chairman, Jeff DeWit, claimed ISIS was crossing the border while lobbying for Trump on immigration in a Feb. 22 interview with CNN’s Carol Costello. 

"Myself being in Arizona, we know firsthand that tens of thousands of people that come over illegally every month there's a big problem on the border. There's drugs pouring over," DeWit said. "Now we have ISIS coming over the border. You have problems. There's only one candidate that's going to do anything to fix it, and that's Donald Trump."

We put DeWit’s ISIS claim up to a PoltiFact truth check. Is this terrorist group crossing the border?

"Now we have ISIS coming over the border."

Officials say it’s not happening

Multiple officials disputed DeWit’s claim.

Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Captain Damon Cecil could not confirm the presence of ISIS at the border.

"We do know that people from Middle Eastern countries have crossed the U.S./Mexican border in Arizona. We are not able to confirm that anyone caught trying to illegally enter the U.S. from Mexico has ties to ISIS or any other terrorist organization," Cecil said.

The influx of immigrants from the Middle East using the U.S.-Mexico border, however, goes back several years.

A report released in 2006 from the House Committee on Homeland Security states that "each year, hundreds of illegal aliens from countries known to harbor terrorists or promote terrorism" are routinely encountered when they attempt to cross the border.

Moreover, the report definitively states that members of terrorist group Hezbollah "have already entered the United States" using the border sometime before 2005.

An August 2009 Government Accountability Office report also notes that Border Patrol encountered three people with "links to terrorism" at southwest border checkpoints in fiscal year 2008.

But, as far as ISIS, the connection isn’t there.

"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," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson told ABC15. 

We also reached out to Mexico’s embassy in Washington D.C. Their spokesman, Ariel Moutsatsos-Morales, refuted DeWit’s claim.

"The government of Mexico dismisses and categorically denies any statement on the alleged presence of ISIS's operating cells throughout the border region. Mexican authorities have no record of the presence of Islamist extremist groups or individuals in Mexico. Officials from Mexico and the United States maintain permanent contact with each other and continuously exchange information on security threats," Morales said.

Our ruling

DeWit said, "now we have ISIS coming over the border." There is no definitive evidence of that.

Yes, people with ties to the Middle East have been encountered at the border. Members of terrorist group Hezbollah entered the United States via the border sometime before 2005. But there’s no evidence that terrorists linked to ISIS have crossed the border, and many public safety officials have said flatly that it hasn’t happened.

For that, we rate DeWit’s claim as False.


For the complete fact-check, visit our news partner, PolitiFact Arizona