Document Forgery Factory in Virginia
by MICHAEL CUTLER
February 7, 2011
I was sent information about two news reports from a number of my friends, including a former colleague who worked with me at the INS. The news reports appeared in the Loudoun Times and the Loudoun Daily Monitor on February 4th and are important on a couple of levels.
First of all the news is significant because it provides some details about an apparently successful investigation that was conducted by local law enforcement investigators in Virginia that has resulted in the identification and the subsequent shutting down of a document mill. Document mills produce various documents that can be used to provide individuals with documentation that would enable them to create false identities for themselves. The issue of the creation of false identities is of extreme importance because the only folks who would want to alter their identities are individuals who have reasons to attempt to conceal their true identities.
What I find interesting is that the news reports make no mention of DHS or ICE being involved in the investigation, other than noting police officers made use of the 287(g) program to identify the fact that the individuals who were arrested pursuant to the investigation are believed to be illegal aliens. Through this important program, the cops were able to lodge detainers against those who were criminally charged. This means that whenever their criminal charges are completely disposed of- perhaps after they serve out their prison sentences, presuming that they are ultimately found guilty of the crimes they are charged with and sentences to serve prison sentences that they will then come into the custody of ICE.
According to the Loudoun Daily Monitor, two of the defendants who were arrested by the police were previously deported from the United States. These individuals can be further prosecuted for unlawful reentry by the federal government.
Ultimately, the lodging of detainers will enable ICE to attempt to seek the removal of all of these individuals once they come into federal custody.
As I noted at the beginning of this commentary, are a number of possible reasons why someone might want to conceal his (her) true identity but generally it must be presumed that anyone who would attempt to obscure his true identity is someone who is intending to engage in illegal activities.
The use of false identities is a tactic employed by criminals, by terrorists and by illegal aliens who may simply be seeking unlawful employment or may be attempting to conceal that they have committed other crimes.
When law enforcement officials arrest a suspect in a crime, one of the first tasks to be undertaken is to photograph and fingerprint the person who has been arrested. Most criminals who have been arrested previously will attempt to prevent law enforcement authorities from easily knowing about their prior arrests and possibly convictions. The use of a false identity is used to obscure the career criminal's background. It is not uncommon for law enforcement to arrest and individual and find numerous false names that the person has used once the fingerprint records are found. I have actually arrested individuals who had used so many false names that the printout had pages of aliases!
Illegal aliens also attempt to utilize false identities to conceal the fact that they are illegally present in the United States or, perhaps, had been previously deported from the United States, making their mere presence in our country subsequent to that deportation a felony. (An alien who has been deported from the United States and has no criminal history is committing a felony that has a maximum punishment of up to two years in prison while an alien who has been previously deported and was removed from the United States because of criminal convictions faces a maximum of up to 20 years in prison.)
Illegal aliens also use false identity documents in order to procure illegal employment. This is one of the reasons that I am concerned about the administration's stated policy of seeking to punish employers who intentionally hire illegal aliens but through the "audit only" approach to worksite enforcement- conducting what have come to be referred to as "silent raids" are not focusing adequate attention on the way that likely millions of illegal aliens purchase counterfeit identity documents to enable them to pass themselves off as lawful immigrants or even United States citizens, who are entitled to work in the United States.
You may be interested to know that last year I agreed to assist a law firm that was retained by a farm in Hawaii because two of their managers were arrested and criminally charged with intentionally hiring illegal aliens. Generally I would not assist a defense attorney. I certainly have the right to assist any law firm I want to, but I would never assist in the defense of a person who, in my judgement, was guilty of wrongdoing- this is a matter of personal principle. I do not compromise on core issues and this is certainly one of them.
In the Hawaii case, however, all of the employees that were hired by the managers, who were subsequently arrested, showed the managers counterfeit Alien Registration Cards (Green Cards). In my judgement the cards were not flawless but were of sufficiently good quality that it would be easy to understand how a farm manager would not detect the fact that these documents were bogus. If you doubt this, consider the fact that the illegal aliens in this case, citizens of Mexico, were hired in California and flown by commercial airlines to Hawaii. Their counterfeit documents were accepted by the TSA employees at the airport who permitted them to board their flights to Hawaii. Interestingly the title of the employees of the TSA who made this decision is "Document Checker!"
In this particular case, the workers were all paid "on the books." There was absolutely no evidence of any sort of exploitation and there were no other factors usually associated with the intentional employment of illegal aliens. The entire case was based on the use of fraud documents proffered by the employees and by statements made by a few of the illegal alien employees who agreed to become cooperators. There were no audio or video tapes to substantiate any of the claims made by the few cooperators who, by cooperating with the government, were permitted to remain in the United States for over one year and work while the case was pending.
The two farm managers were ultimately acquitted of all counts of their indictments.
You should also know that according to the current law, an employer who asks to see additional identity documents of an employee whose identity documents may appear questionable could be charged with violating the civil rights of that employee! This places even honest employers in a bind- they can be charged with hiring illegal aliens or, if they ask too many questions about identity documents, may be charged with violating civil rights!
The employees get to decide on what documents to show their employer provided that the documents are listed on the I-9. The employer has no authority to ask to say any additional documents and, in fact, could be violating the law if he does ask for any additional documentation.
This is a link to the M-274 Handbook that is provided by the DHS as a guide to employers and employees about how the Form I-9 is to be prepared. Here is the section of the handbook I want you to pay attention to:
Types of Employment Discrimination Prohibited Under the INA
Discriminatory documentary practices related to verifying the employment authorization and identity of employees during the Form I-9 process is called document abuse . Document abuse occurs when employers treat individuals differently on the basis of national origin or citizenship status in the Form I-9 process . Document abuse can be broadly categorized into four types of conduct:
1 . Improperly requesting that employees produce more documents than are required by Form I-9 to establish the employee’s identity and employment authorization;
2 . Improperly requesting that employees present a particular document, such as a “green card,” to establish identity and/or employment authorization;
3 . Improperly rejecting documents that reasonably appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee presenting them; and
4 . Improperly treating groups of applicants differently when completing Form I-9, such as requiring certain groups of employees who look or sound “foreign” to present particular documents the employer does not require other employees to present.
These practices may constitute unlawful document abuse and should be avoided when verifying employment authorization . All employment-authorized individuals are protected against this type of discrimination .The INA’s provision against document abuse covers employers with four or more employees
Clearly the documents that must be shown by employees to their new employers that represent the "linchpin" of the immigration system on so many levels and therefore identity documents are of tremendous importance to the entire immigration system.
Here is the real question- where is ICE in this investigation? While we are asking questions, I would love to know how many investigations into document are ongoing by ICE at this very moment in an effort to shut down document mills such as this relatively small scale organization that is noted in the news reports below? How many special agents of ICE are even detailed to attempting to identify such identity mills, especially when you consider how such mills undermine homeland security, community safety and even the mission of enforcing our nation's immigration laws?
I have been told that today ICE is more concerned with the identification of criminal rings that seek to produce counterfeit Gucci loafers or other name brand products than they are with identifying and shutting down document mills!
There is absolutely no mention or even intimation that the document mill targeted by this investigation had any nexus whatsoever with terrorists or terrorism but here is an excerpt from the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel (pdf, page 68) that details how four of the terrorists who savagely attacked our nation on September 11, 2001 made use of counterfeit identity documents as they prepared for that attack:
Acquisition of Virginia identification cards. Three Salvadoran immigrants living in Virginia, two illegally and one as a lawful permanent resident, were found guilty of helping four September 11 operatives use fraudulent documentation to obtain Virginia identification documents. Two were convicted of helping Ahmed al Ghamdi and Abdul Aziz al Omari obtain fraudulent residency certificates.177 Another was convicted of providing false residency information on behalf of Hanjour and Mihdhar after being solicited by the two hijackers at a 7-Eleven in Falls Church, Virginia. For a fee, the Salvadoran falsely certified his old Virginia address as the residence of the hijackers.178 These residency certificates were then used to support their applications for Virginia identification cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles on August 1 and 2, 2001, respectively.179 The Salvadoran’s address was also recycled by Moqed and Salem al Hazmi to use on their Virginia identification cards issued on August 2, 2001.180 Jarrah followed suit on August 29, using a fictitious residency address and a certification of that address by Hanjour, who again used the address provided to him on August 1, 2001 to acquire his Virginia identification card.181 One of the men charged in these cases recognized these hijackers as having been together at the Arlington, Virginia, DMV on August 2, 2001.182 In all, the five hijackers based their Virginia identification documents on the residency information of one bribed Salvadoran.
Could the DHS (Department of Homeland Surrender) possibly have a greater incentive to learn from the many errors that enabled the terrorists of September 11, 2001 and others, to enter our country and then embed themselves in our country?
I am extremely pleased by the success reported on in the newspaper articles that make it clear that the local police in Loudoun County clearly understand their mission- what will it take to get the federal government to live up to its responsibility?
I will remind you that the Justice Department is suing the state of Arizona for its efforts to do the job the federal government won't do. The immigration laws of our nation are supposed to protect our nation and our citizens from the presence of foreign nationals whose presence in our country is harmful to our nation and our citizens. All components of the immigration system must be made to work effectively- so much hangs in the balance, especially in this perilous era!
While the United States certainly needs to do much more to secure our borders, it is imperative that the immigration laws of the United States be enforced effectively from within the interior of the United States. Many states are copying the Arizona immigration law that I helped the law firm retained by Governor Jan Brewer to defend. The citizens of our nation are clearly "getting it!"
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Michael Cutler is a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and a recognized authority who addresses the implications of immigration on national security and criminal justice. His website can be read here. Each Friday evening from 7 till 9 pm EDT, he co-hosts a radio show called “Bordering on Insanity” on RePatriot Radio. The audience call-in numbers are: 940-825-1041 and 940-825-1041.