WASHINGTON – Frustrated by claims that Islamic terrorists have crossed the Southwest border, or that people carrying the Ebola virus could easily do so, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson decried “overheated rhetoric” Thursday, saying the number of migrants attempting to sneak across the border is at its lowest since the 1970s.
Johnson said four Kurdish migrants were arrested in September attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, but investigators found they had no link to terrorism.
The four were members of the Kurdistan Workers Party, an organization that is fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq, Johnson said. He said the four would be deported.
Earlier this week, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said on Fox News that Border Patrol agents had told him at least 10 Islamic State militants had crossed from Mexico into Texas. The Department of Homeland Security quickly called the claim “categorically false.”
“In the absence of facts, the American public is susceptible to claims that we have an open, ‘porous’ border, through which unaccompanied minors and members of terrorist organizations such as ISIL may pass,” Johnson said, using an acronym for Islamic State. He spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington.
People in public office, he added, “owe the public informed, careful and responsible dialogue, not overheated rhetoric that is certain to feed the flames of fear, anxiety and suspicion.”
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