Michigan Dem Senate Candidate Downplays Reports on ISIS-Linked Border Crossings

"At this point, given how much speculation there is out there, I want to see the actual classified information," Rep. Elissa Slotkin said.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) speaks during a press conference (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
July 1, 2024

Michigan Democratic Senate candidate Elissa Slotkin questioned reports that the Department of Homeland Security has flagged over 400 illegal immigrants linked to an ISIS border smuggling network, downplaying the claims as "speculation."

"I [used to be] on the Homeland Security Committee, and we would always get these classified briefings. And when you actually look down to look into it, it really didn't—you know—our border forces stopped anybody that had any of those [terrorist] relationships," said Slotkin during an interview with WJR radio in Detroit last week.

Slotkin, a House member since 2019, was responding to an NBC News report that said the DHS identified over 400 immigrants who illegally crossed into the United States as part of a human smuggling network affiliated with ISIS. Around 150 of these individuals have been arrested but at least 50 remain at large, according to the report.

Slotkin said she has yet to see the classified information on ISIS-tied immigrants and would "want to see the actual intelligence behind the statement" before accepting the claims from the DHS.

"At this point, given how much speculation there is out there, I want to see the actual classified information," the Michigan Democrat said. "Any idea that we have, you know, terrorists who are coming to the country is a bad thing, and we need to do everything we can to stop them. But I just, I come from a world where you trust, but verify."

Slotkin's attempt to play down the reports could fuel Republican efforts to paint her as soft on border control. Immigration has been a major issue in Michigan, with voters listing it as one of the top two issues in the election, according to a Quinnipiac poll in March.

Republicans have slammed Slotkin as weak on immigration enforcement, and have sought to tie her to the border crisis under President Joe Biden. Slotkin has tried to walk a careful line in swing-state Michigan, playing up her national security credentials as a former CIA analyst and joining a congressional letter to Biden in May calling for more security at the southern border.

But she also voted against a House resolution criticizing Biden’s immigration policies, and voted to terminate former president Trump’s border emergency declaration in 2019.

Republican Michigan Senate candidate Mike Rogers, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, has campaigned on border security issues.

Rogers called Slotkin’s comments "concerning."
"Slotkin’s lack of judgment and refusal to accept the reality of the border crisis is shocking," he told the Washington Free Beacon. "Her willful disregard of Michigan families’ safety is very concerning."

After six Russian nationals reported to have suspected terrorist ties were arrested in the United States last month, Rogers blasted Slotkin, saying it was "time for Biden and Slotkin to act, we need border security now."

The Michigan Senate race is one of the most competitive in the country, and could decide control of the upper chamber next year.