Attempts by illegal immigrants to gain entry into the United States with fraudulent documents increased by almost 25 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2014, reports The Texas Tribune.
As the number of border agents increased along the southern border in response to the surge of immigrants from Central and South America last summer, the number of individuals who have been detained or refused entry by Customs and Border Protection agents at the Laredo, Texas, field office rose from 31,800 in FY2013 to approximately 39,000 in FY2014, according to the paper.
Meanwhile, at the El Paso, Texas, field office, the number increased from 7,855 to 10,170 in those two fiscal years.
The reason most were denied entry was fake or stolen documents, the Tribune said.
“With the new technology and biometrics, we are seeing fewer counterfeits, but there are still lots of people trying to be impostors. A lot of it comes down to officer expertise and training. They are trained on what to look for regarding certain facial features that are consistent throughout your life,” Roger Maier, a Border Patrol spokesman in El Paso, told The Tribune.
“The fraudulent use of identification documents, both real and counterfeit, represents a very real threat to our public safety and the security of our nation,” said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge for Homeland Securities Investigations in Boston, when announcing the recent sentencing of an illegal alien convicted on charges of attempting to fraudulently obtain ID documents.
In December, four people were apprehended in California trying to use fake passports to cross the border, reports Breitbart News.
Many of the documents, from fake birth certificates and Social Security cards, are being sold on Facebook pages and through other social media sources, according to Breitbart.
A conviction on producing false identification documents carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The sale of fraudulent documents, however, is not only a problem along the border. In Tennessee, state officials are investigating businesses for allegedly selling fake Tennessee IDs to undocumented immigrants, reports Fox6, a local news station.
Fake documents also are used by smugglers, who sell them to illegal aliens so they can fly to the U.S. with the help of corrupt airline and immigration officials.
For example, in December, a Costa Rican woman, Mercedes Morera Roche, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for her role in a conspiracy to smuggle 25 Cubans into the U.S., reports The Tico Times of Costa Rica.
Morera admitted in her plea agreement that between 2004 and 2011, she provided individuals with fraudulent identities and travel documents, transportation, safe-house locations, and even instructed them on what to say to customs officials should they be questioned, according to the paper.
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s FY2014 enforcement report, the department conducted a total of 577,295 removals and returns, including 414,481 removals and 162,814 returns, while Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported a total of 315,943 removals or returns, and Border Patrol made 486,651 apprehensions.
According to DHS, 85 percent of the people ICE deported last fiscal year were convicted criminals.
For the first time this year, the DHS report, which was released in December, includes statistics gathered from ICE, Border Patrol, and Homeland Security into one document.
The report also found that the number of Mexican nationals that ICE removed or returned decreased, while the number of Guatemalan, Honduran, and El Salvadorian removals or returns increased.
While Border Patrol apprehensions of Mexican nationals in FY2014 decreased by 14 percent from FY2013, apprehensions of individuals from countries other than Mexico, predominately from Central America, increased by 68 percent.