MOSTLY FALSE: Saudis "caught" by agents at border in Laredo

Greg Abbott tweeted about Syrians caugth at the border Nov. 18, 2015. We found this claim Mostly False; there was considerable missing context.
Greg Abbott tweeted about Syrians caugth at the border Nov. 18, 2015. We found this claim Mostly False; there was considerable missing context.

Gov. Greg Abbott, at the forefront of a push-back by more than half the nation's governors against the U.S. admitting Syrian refugees, declared that fresh apprehensions at the Texas-Mexico border illuminate his concerns.

In a Nov. 18, 2015, Twitter post, the Texas Republican said: "THIS is why Texas is vigilant about Syrian refugees." His tweet pointed to a headline on a story posted that night by the conservative Breitbart.com: "8 Syrians caught at Texas border in Laredo."

Refugees from Syria -- where four years of civil war has displaced millions of people, according to the United Nations -- have been a hot topic of late. On Nov. 16, 2015, Abbott was among what proved to be 31 of the nation's governors declaring refusals to admit Syrian refugees to their states, for fear militants would mix in.

So, did agents nab Syrians, as Abbott wrote?

Breitbart's story, headlined "Exclusive--Confirmed: 8 Syrians caught at Texas border in Laredo," cited two individuals described as federal agents but not identified in the story who reportedly advised that "eight Syrian illegal aliens attempted to enter Texas from Mexico in the Laredo sector" on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, two days before Abbott posted his tweet.  

The story further quoted Hector Garza, a Border Patrol agent and president of a South Texas chapter of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing Border Patrol personnel. According to the post, Garza said agents in the Laredo area were "concerned" because they had "heard about Syrians being apprehended in the area from other federal agents," although he also said he couldn’t confirm that Syrians had lately been apprehended.

To our inquiry, the Department of Homeland Security, the umbrella agency for Border Patrol, said two Syrian families had presented themselves at the Laredo port of entry and were taken into custody for further processing.

"Please emphasize that they PRESENTED themselves," the statement said.

Meantime, Rick Pauza, a Border Patrol spokesman at the Laredo point of entry, said by phone the eight Syrians described in the Breitbart report "identified themselves truthfully" and did not evade agents.

The morning after Abbott made his claim, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, the Austin Republican who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, discussed reports of the Syrians in Laredo on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports. "It was a Syrian refugee family that went to the Laredo port of entry in my state and basically turned themselves in for political asylum," McCaul said, meaning they were seeking shelter from imminent harm in their home country. "They were not infiltrating to conduct terrorist operations."

We found Abbott's claim Mostly False. See our full check here.

See Gov. Abbott's full Truth-O-Meter report card.