Five Syrian nationals with fake passports who were planning to enter the United States illegally were reportedly detained in Honduras on Wednesday.
CNN reports the five were using passports stolen in Greece, which has been inundated with Syrians fleeing a bloody civil war in their home nation.
“We suppose that they were going to illegally travel by land all the way to the United States,” [Aníbal Baca, a spokesman for Honduras’ Police Investigation Unit] told reporters.
Baca said it was unclear why the group was planning to head to the United States, but it is under investigation. He told Reuters they were “normal Syrians.”
None of the men were detained in connection with terrorism.
Interpol helped in the detention of the men. The agency said the quintet traveled through Lebanon, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica before being detained in Honduras.
Retired Immigration and Naturalization Service Special Agent Neville Cramer said Central America is a well-known hub for refugees, illegal immigrants, and criminals.
“These are suspected areas where south Asians and individuals from the Arab world have come over,” he said. “They are using that as a location for staging attempts to come across the U.S. – Mexico border.”
Cramer said the news of the detentions are not unique because our Southwest border is “extremely porous.”
“We have never accepted the fact that there could be terrorists and significant criminals coming across, our politicians for some reason just can’t accept the fact that that’s happening,” he said.
Dozens of American states — including Arizona — are considering taking action to prevent refugees from resettlement after the Paris terror attacks that left 129 dead and 352 injured. One of the attackers was carrying a Syrian passport and passed through Greece in October.
Millions of Syrians have fled to neighboring Middle Eastern countries and Europe, and President Barack Obama’s administration has pledged to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next 12 months. The U.S. State Department said the refugees would be spread across the country. Republican presidential candidates have criticized the plan.
In response to the calls from governors to prevent Syrian refugees from coming to their states, Lavinia Limon, president and CEO of the U.S Committee for Refugees and Immigration, said under the Refugee Act of 1980 governors cannot legally block refugees from settling in their communities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
- US, Russia announce Syria cease-fire after Trump-Putin talks
- Arizona residents mark Juneteenth, want more taught about emancipation
- Driver crashes into Paris police car, dies of injuries
- Police in Paris shoot man with hammer attacking officer
- US ambassador assures Syrian refugees more help is coming