Facebook Twitter



Counterfeiters aren't rolling dollar bills off the presses, but U.S. immigration officials warn they're making millions selling phony documents like Social Security cards, passports and "green cards" that enable illegal aliens to work in this country.

Obviously, it's easier to make phony documents than it is to create counterfeit currency, yet there is a lot of money involved.Officials estimate than a half-million foreigners now have the counterfeit documents, paying between $25 and $10,000 depending on how much money he has and how important the document is. Immigration officers estimate that 10,000 criminal aliens have such documentation.

Most of the cards are used to evade federal prohibitions against hiring illegal aliens. If an alien doesn't have a legal work card (the "green card"), the employer faces stiff fines. The documents are being sold to aliens from throughout Latin America, and other countries including Turkey, Korea, Nigeria, India and the Philippines.

If a system has a weakness, invariably someone's willing to step in and take advantage of it.

Immigration and Naturalization Service investigators seized 14,000 counterfeit green cards and 10,000 bogus Social Security cards in Houston in January. And of the 121 fraud cases they investigated nationwide in December, 105 involved production and sale of false documents.

Officials say that the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which gave legal status to aliens who could prove they worked in U.S. agriculture for at least 60 days between May 1, 1985, and May 1, 1986, created the market. The United States has long required documentation of workers, and those who couldn't produce it had trouble finding jobs and if they were caught, faced deportation. That's still the case. But the counterfeit market was really boosted by provisions that aliens had to have documentation or their employers would be fined. Employers, personally faced with penalties, are less willing to take a chance by hiring an illegal alien.

The INS will need everyone's support to dry up the document black market and bring integrity back to the employment of aliens. In the meantime, the problem is getting worse and everyone's the loser.