Federal law enforcement officials have identified a high number of individuals with Middle Eastern names traveling with Mexican passports, according to an internal Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Since the beginning of 2022, nearly 30,000 Mexican passport holders were flagged as part of the investigation into passport fraud, the memo states, adding that each identified individual will be further evaluated. A senior official at DHS who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the agency will likely investigate whether any of the individuals have traveled to the United States and whether there are any other patterns in their travel.
The concern over fraudulent passports comes as a surge of illegal migrants at the southern border overwhelms the immigration system. With hundreds of thousands of migrants attempting to enter the country each month, Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies often lack resources to properly vet who is entering the country. DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said last year that the United States risks losing its “first line of defense” because of the “unsustainable” amount of illegal immigration at the border.
There are fears that terror groups such as al Qaeda could take advantage of the strained immigration system. Last April, for example, two Yemeni nationals on the terrorist watch list were apprehended at the southern border. Law enforcement officials appear concerned that bad actors could abuse the legal travel system to enter the country with passports obtained from Mexico, and enter the United States legally. Roughly 20 million Mexican citizens easily travel to the United States as tourists each year, according to the U.S. Travel Association.