PHOENIX — The arrests of six Middle Eastern men caught entering the U.S. illegally from Mexico two years ago set off alarm in border states and in some right-wing blogs and other media outlets.
Now, documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request reveal the men were fleeing violence and persecution in their homelands and were cleared of any terrorism ties. The records also show they were physically and verbally abused by two Mexican smugglers with a history of crossing the border illegally and went days without food and water.
The case highlights the highly politicized nature of the U.S.-Mexico border as hysteria sometimes overtakes facts. Some blogs incorrectly reported the men were released. Others tied them to the Islamic State.
In fact, the men co-operated with the government, and four have been deported. The remaining two men are in removal proceedings.