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DeSantis spox dunks on NYT 'fact-check' on terrorists entering southern border: 'Awaiting your correction'

The office of Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., is taking aim at a so-called “fact-check” from The New York Times that accused him last year of making a “false” claim about terrorists entering illegally via the southern border in light of the recent ISIS-linked arrests. 

Eight Tajikistan nationals with ties to ISIS were taken into custody this week by the FBI and ICE in New York City, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. According to a federal source familiar with the sting operation, all eight crossed the southern border illegally and at the time were “fully vetted” with nothing derogatory flagged. 

DeSantis press secretary Jeremy Redfern took the opportunity to revive a dispute with the Times over a “fact-check” it published when the governor was running in the GOP primary. 

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DeSantis speaking to supporters

While covering the November primary debate, the Times challenged DeSantis when he said, “If you look at the threats that we face, terrorists have come in through our southern border.”

“This is false,” Times reporter Eileen Sullivan wrote. “Since 1975, no one has been killed or injured in a terrorist attack in the United States that involved someone who came across the border illegally, according to Alex Nowrasteh, the vice president for economic and social policy studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.”

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The fact-check was widely criticized when it was first published. As Fox News’ Bill Melugin pointed out at the time, “169 people on the FBI terror watchlist were arrested by Border Patrol after crossing illegally in FY’23.”

“Is everyone on the list a terror threat? Absolutely not… but 169 terror hits at the border in FY’23 is higher than the previous six years – combined,” Melugin wrote on X. “One cannot reasonably claim that no terrorists have crossed the border illegally. There is no way to know that – & the FBI isn’t gonna turn over the info on the ones they’ve got anytime soon. Also, saying no terrorists have crossed illegally and nobody has been killed by a terrorist that crossed the border since 1975 are two entirely different things.”

Days later, Sullivan did concede in a separate report that there had been a spike in arrests among migrants on the terror watch list, writing, “Republicans have seized on those numbers to assail President Biden for border policies that they say make Americans unsafe.”

DeSantis NYT

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In February, Redfern sent Sullivan an email after the Biden administration confirmed a report that an al-Shabaab terrorist who crossed the border illegally was arrested after being in the U.S. for a year, writing, “I’m just wondering if you’re going to update your ‘fact check’ due to this acknowledgment from the Biden administration.” 

Redfern posted his email on X and wrote, “I really do hope @esullivannyt is having a great Thursday. Great reporting by @JennieSTaer to get the Biden administration to acknowledge that an al-Shabaab terrorist was roaming freely in the United States since March 2023. Once again, @GovRonDeSantis was right.”

Eagles Pass Texas migrants

On Tuesday, Redfern wrote, “Still waiting for her to reply to my email.”

“With yet another example of terrorists crossing our southern border, I’m eagerly awaiting your correction,” he told Sullivan on X. 

The New York Times did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

Notably, the Times has yet to cover the arrest of the eight border-crossing terrorist suspects since the story broke Tuesday. 

Fox News’ Stephany Price contributed to this report.

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