WASHINGTON— The White House confirmed on Tuesday a report that a smuggler with ties to ISIS helped migrants enter the United States from Mexico, setting off alarm bells throughout the government.
The incident was so alarming that an urgent classified intelligence report was included in the morning briefing book for President Joe Biden's top Cabinet members, the report said. It also prompted a flurry of emergency meetings between the top national security and administration officials.
"The intelligence alerted us to a human smuggling network. We moved fast and successfully to disrupt it," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday. "We are very grateful to law enforcement for their quick work and their vigilance on this."
The smugglers had been detained overseas, according to the press secretary, with one having ties to ISIS. She did, however, note that there is no evidence linking the migrants to terrorism.
According to the report, officials were still working to "identify and assess" all individuals who entered the United States, but no specific ISIS plot has been identified.
"There's no sign that anyone moved by the smuggling network has a terrorist connection," Ms. Jean-Pierre said.
Additionally, as a precaution, people brought here by the smuggling network are subject to extra vetting and are all in removal proceedings, she added.
Furthermore, anyone crossing the border outside of the network who matches the profile of those in the smuggling network is subject to additional scrutiny, detention, and expedited removal proceedings, she said.
While no specific ISIS plot has been identified, authorities have not yet located all of those who traveled as part of the network. And the FBI is still investigating more than 15 of the migrants as potential criminal threats.
"This is a White House that is committed to making sure that we are protecting our homeland and also protecting the American people. That is our commitment. We will continue to be vigilant on that," Ms. Jean-Pierre said.
Republicans were quick to express their reaction to the news on social media, criticizing President Biden's response to the border crisis.
"Smuggler with ties to ISIS helped illegal aliens enter the US from Mexico," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.
"Why doesn’t the Biden administration care about the disaster at the southern border?"
"The crisis at our border isn't just a humanitarian crisis—it's also a national security crisis," Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) wrote on X.
"It's way past time for the Biden Administration to work with us on border security. This is just the latest example of why we need to secure the border."