Eleven Iraqis carrying false passports and heading to California were arrested at Monterrey's airport, immigration officials said Monday.

Nine men, a woman and a two-year-old girl traveled from Madrid, Spain, to Monterrey, where they were detained Saturday, an immigration official said on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak publicly about the arrests.

None of the Iraqi citizens appear on terrorist watch lists and they told authorities they were Chaldean Christians trying to get to California were they would request asylum, the official said.

They are being held at an immigration detention center in Mexico City pending charges for using false documents.

Chaldean Christians have a sizable community in southern California and frequently try to enter the United States through Mexico, saying they face persecution in Iraq.

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