Fact Check

6,000 Muslims with Forged Papers Caught at Southern Border

A claim that 6,000 Muslim migrants were captured at the U.S.-Mexico border with forged papers is unsubstantiated.

Published Oct. 24, 2016

6,000 Muslim migrants with forged papers were captured trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

On 24 October 2016, the Conservative Daily Post published a badly-jumbled article that was a mish-mash of information gleaned from other conservative publications, which themselves rehashed a legitimate 16 August 2016 news report about cross-Mexico migration by people from outside the continental Americas:

An official report was released on Monday, stating that 6,342 “Special Interest Aliens” have been captured. This report shows just how bad it has gotten at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency recently endorsed Donald Trump, and now we know why.

Federal U.S. Agents working on the border in immigration facilities have detained over 6,000 Islamic aliens. Conservative Tribune confirmed this in a recent report on the state of our crumbling borders.

Adam Isacson, An analyst at the Washington Office in Latin America pointed out the specific location the jihadists where able to enter from. The Department of Homeland Security has acknowledged this glaringly weak area of Tapachula in the past, yet has failed to take any real action. It is an area that terrorist groups could easily use to funnel in weapons, ammunition, drugs, and sex slaves.

For starters, Tapachula lies on Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, not on the U.S.-Mexico border. Further, there is no "official report" or credible media report that 6,000 "Islamic aliens" have been detained by U.S. agents. The information was apparently gleaned from conservative web sites such as Breitbart and the Conservative Tribune, both of which used misleading headlines (Breitbart: "Thousands of Middle Eastern Illegal Immigrants Busted With Forged Papers at Border; Conservative Tribune: "6,000 Muslims Cross Southern Border, All Caught With 1 Alarming Item). Both publications cribbed their stories from a report by Reuters that did not report what those sites claimed.

According to Reuters, U.S. agents had been sent to Mexico's southern border to vet 640 migrants from countries outside the Americas who were being held there. Further, Reuters reported that 6,342 migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East were apprehended by Mexican authorities trying to enter that country in the first six months of 2016.The figures were accompanied by a similar growth in migrants from outside the American continent attempting to enter the U.S. along its Southwest border, but the report made no mention of the migrants' religion nor stated that they were all using forged papers:

The U.S. agents' findings come as Mexican immigration data show 6,342 Asian, African and Middle Eastern migrants were apprehended trying to enter Mexico in the first six months of this year. That was up from 4,261 in all of 2015, and 1,831 in 2014.

U.S. border apprehensions point to the same trend. Between October 2015 and May 2016, U.S. agents apprehended 5,350 African and Asian migrants at the U.S. Southwest border. That's up from 6,126 in all of fiscal year 2015 and 4,172 in all of fiscal year 2014.

U.S. concerns about potential security risks from migrants using the unusual and circuitous southern route have been growing in recent years, following a string of Islamic State-inspired attacks in the West and the surge in Syrian refugees fleeing that country's civil war.

Five Syrian nationals detained in Honduras last November were part of a wider group of seven Syrians who acquired forged passports in Brazil and then went by land to Argentina on their way north, a U.S. government source familiar with that case said. There was no evidence to suggest the men were militants.

While the Reuters report does make it clear that upticks in migrants making arduous treks through Latin America and Mexico in order to enter the United States (sometimes with forged documents) presents a security concern, most of those migrants are persons seeking better economic prospects or fleeing persecution, not "jihadists" intent on wreaking terror in America. U.S. agents are making efforts to partner with immigration authorities in other countries to gain intelligence on who may be heading north to America's southern border with Mexico.

The web sites mentioned above published fear-mongering headlines about "thousands" of Muslim migrants converging on the U.S.-Mexico border, but the Reuters report specifically identified only about a dozen people hailing from predominantly Muslim countries trying to migrate to the United States through Mexico. None of those persons were tied in the Reuters report with any type of terrorist activity. It's also worth noting that while the union that represents employees of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) endorsed Trump, the agency itself has made no political endorsement, as no governmental agency would.



Price, Bob.   "Thousands of Middle Eastern Illegal Immigrants Busted with Forged Papers at Border."     Breitbart.   18 August 2016.

Conservative Tribune.   "6,000 Muslims Cross Southern Border, All Caught with 1 Alarming Item."     23 August 2016.

Edwards, Julia.   "U.S. Seeks Latin American Help Amid Rise in Asian, African Migrants."     Reuters.   16 August 2016.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who has been working in the news industry since 2006.