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Border agents apprehend 5 from Pakistan, 1 Afghan near Patagonia

Border Patrol agents detained five men suspected of being in the country illegally from Pakistan and another man from Afghanistan on Monday near Patagonia, south of Tucson.

While Gov. Doug Ducey jumped to comment on their apprehension, Homeland Security data shows that unauthorized immigrants from Afghanistan and Pakistan, not to mention Iraq and Syria, have been coming into the United States for a decade.

The Nogales International reported that the men were arrested with two smugglers near the Rail X Ranch Estates neighborhood just northeast of Patagonia, near State Route 82 about 16 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that "records checks revealed no derogatory information about the individuals."

"As a standard procedure, agents processed the six individuals and checked their identities against numerous law enforcement and national security-related databases," Border Patrol said.

After the arrests came to light, Gov. Doug Ducey wasted no time releasing a statement calling the news "very troubling" and referencing video threats made by the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which attacked Paris last Friday.

On Tuesday, Ducey joined with 29 other governors in asking the White House to halt the resettlement of refugees from Syria, stoking fears members of ISIS would be among the 10,000 people slated for acceptance into the United States this year. 

Officials with Homeland Security and the State Department defended the program and hosted a conference call with 34 governors. 

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Late Thursday night, DHS also announced that federal officials with Customs and Border Protection, the FBI, and the State Department held a conference call with 200 state and local law enforcement officials to provide information about the "stringent" policies and security measures that refugees must go through before entering the United States. 

Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the officials that the U.S. prioritizes what he called the "most vulnerable" refugees, including women and children, as well as survivors of torture by the Syrian army and ISIS. 

Figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that of the 4.5 million registered refugees from Syria just over 51 percent of the refugee population was under the age of 17, 38.6 below the age of 11. 

This follows closely with figures released by the State Department's Refugee Processing Center, which shows that children under 14 are 44 percent of the total number of Syrians accepted into the United States so far this year. 

Ducey said that next week, members of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee were coming to Arizona, and Ducey would use that opportunity to push for enhanced security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Ducey also noted his "border strike force," which will send Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers to help law enforcement efforts along the Mexican border. 

Ducey has not requested funding for the group, however, the Associated Press uncovered the plan last week.

This plan would replicate a similar effort in Texas, which has deployed both its own public safety officers and the state’s national guard along the Texas-Mexico border, at a cost of $467 million from 2014 to 2015 according to the state’s legislative board.

While Ducey jumped to comment on the presence of Afghani and Pakistani men near Patagonia, data from the Department of Homeland Security's Yearbook of Immigration Statistics shows that unauthorized immigrants from those countries, not to mention Iraq and Syria, have been coming into the United States for a decade. 

In 2013, authorities apprehended 334 Pakistanis and 70 Afghanis, down from the year before.

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But among the 158,000 people in deportation proceedings in 2015, only 22 were considered national security targets and only one person was deported because of a terrorism charge, according to information gathered by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonpartisan research project supported by Syracuse University. 

However, none of those charged and slated for deportation on a national security basis, including allegations of terrorism connections, were from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, or Iraq. 

Instead, Mexicans made up the largest group, followed by Cubans. None of the national security cases were adjudicated in Arizona, records showed.

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