SAN ANTONIO -- Federal officials say eight Syrians have turned themselves over to immigration authorities along the Texas-Mexico border.
The Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that two families -- two men, two women and four children -- presented themselves Tuesday in Laredo and are being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"The two men from these families are being held at the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall, Texas," stated the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "Due to privacy issues, no additional information will be provided at this time."
It's not uncommon for Syrians and others from the Middle East to seek asylum in the U.S. through various routes. However, the detention of the Syrians in Texas comes at a time of heightened national security concern from several governors who oppose a federal plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks.
In response to the detentions, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted, "THIS is why Texas is vigilant about Syrian refugees."
On Wednesday it was reported that five Syrian nationals who were trying to reach the United States using stolen Greek passports were detained in Honduras, but there were no signs of any links to last week's attacks in Paris, police said, according to Reuters.
Police said the Syrian men were taken into custody late Tuesday in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, after arriving from Costa Rica, and had been planning to head to the border with neighboring Guatemala. The passports had been doctored to replace the photographs.
"We received information from (fellow) police services that these five Syrians left Greece and passed through Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and San Jose in Costa Rica before finally reaching Tegucigalpa," police spokesman Anibal Baca told Reuters. "They are normal Syrians."
In the U.S., pressure has been growing to stop accepting refugees from Syria after French authorities revealed that a Syrian passport was found close to the body of one of the eight terrorists killed during the attacks in Paris.
Several dozen U.S. governors have refused to accept refugees in their states.
The House on Thursday passed legislation that would pause the Obama administration's plan to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.
Lawmakers passed the bill 289-137 with 242 Republicans and 47 Democrats voting in favor. Two Republicans and 135 Democrats voted against the measure.
Proposed in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, the GOP-sponsored bill would require the Homeland Security secretary, FBI director, and director of national intelligence to certify the completion of background checks for all refugees from Iraq and Syria and certify that they they don't threaten U.S. national security.
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