Tags: Homeland Security | Immigration | hungary | security breach | fraud | passports

Wash Post: Hungary's Massive Passport Fraud Allowed Dozens to Enter US Under False IDs

Wash Post: Hungary's Massive Passport Fraud Allowed Dozens to Enter US Under False IDs

Fernando Esterlich, a Customs and Border Protection officer, checks passports at the passport control booth as people enter the United States through the Miami International Airport June 22, 2007 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
 

By    |   Sunday, 13 May 2018 09:28 AM

Amid a security breach of Hungary's passport system that allowed 700 non-Hungarians to assume stolen identities and illegally obtain passports, there are fears the fraudulent passports might be sold to radical terrorists, according to The Washington Post.

"The most obvious risk here is that people are coming to the United States who have a reason to disguise their identity," former DHS official Stewart Baker told the Post. "Common reasons for doing this are drug smuggling, organized crime or illegal immigration.

"The most troubling reasons would be a well-organized terrorist organization like ISIS or al Qaida might purchase these documents . . . or the Russian spies we kicked out might fly to Ukraine, buy a Hungarian passport, and fly back to the U.S."

U.S. officials say 30 of 85 illegal immigrants who attempted to enter the U.S. still remained as of October and were avoiding detection and deportation, the Post reported.

"It's a macro concern anytime someone travels and isn't who they say they are," a senior DHS official told the Post under the condition of anonymity on a classified issue. "I can't go into the specifics of what we see as the vulnerabilities."

As a member of the European Union, Hungarian passport holders are eligible for visa-free travel to the U.S., making those passports attractive to potential terrorists or Russian spies, whose countries have more strict visa requirements to enter the U.S., according to the Post.

DHS has warned Hungary in October their visa-waiver program (VWP) – permitting travel to the U.S. for 90 days without requiring a visa – has been downgraded to "provisional," the Post reported.

"DHS is prepared to take further enforcement action if Hungary fails to fulfill its VWP responsibilities," former DHS assistant secretary for international affairs James Nealon wrote in an official DHS document obtained by the Post.

The fraud centers around a program in Hungary that allows non-citizens to obtain a passport if they have documented ancestry and pass a language test. The Post cited reports claiming the documents can be faked and "corrupt officials" are passing registrants who learn a few simple sentences for the language test.

The passport fraud has become an additional stressor and an already strained U.S.-Hungary relations under President Donald Trump's administration, despite their military cooperation and their leaders public hard-line stances on immigration and border security, per the Post.

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Amid a security breach of Hungary's passport system that allowed 700 non-Hungarians to assume stolen identities and illegally obtain passports, there are fears the fraudulent passports might be sold to radical terrorists, according to The Washington Post."
hungary, security breach, fraud, passports
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2018-28-13
Sunday, 13 May 2018 09:28 AM
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