Terrorists and Criminals Gain Entry Into US Through Fraud
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Immigration fraud is yet another method used by criminals and terrorists to gain entry into the United States illegally to carry out their agendas.
The Identity and Benefits Fraud Unit, an investigative component of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is the agency responsible for detecting, deterring, and disrupting the fraudulent schemes used by terrorist and criminal organizations. In fiscal year 2006, the IBF Unit opened about 4,000 new cases of immigration fraud and received or developed thousands of leads.
As the largest investigative arm in the Department of Homeland Security, ICE unites the functions, resources, and legal authorities of several previously fragmented border and security organizations into an integrated homeland security agency focused on investigations and enforcement.
ICE's mission is to prevent terrorist and criminal acts by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal networks. A key tool in committing immigration fraud is the use of fraudulent documents.
These documents can be used to gain illegal entry to the United States, traffic or smuggle aliens, obtain government benefits, or obtain unauthorized employment. ICE investigators target criminal organizations that deal in fraudulent documents, shutting down a key vulnerability in the immigration system.
For example, a recent case in Washington, DC saw ICE agents target four document fraud/counterfeiting operations, seizing over 1,800 false documents, shutting down four document mills, and apprehending 50 illegal aliens.
ICE's Forensic Documents Laboratory (FDL) is a critical investigative tool in the fight against immigration fraud and counterfeiting. The FDL is the only federal crime lab devoted almost entirely to the forensic examination of documents and offers a full line of analysis and examination services to law enforcement agencies nationwide.
The IBF Unit is leading the fight against immigration fraud through a variety of strategic initiatives. The National Fraud Strategy is the IBF Unit's key antifraud effort focused on identifying targets and developing criteria for prioritizing cases. The NFS expands the unit's investigative capabilities with newly established Benefit Fraud Units, task forces, and other strategic enforcement strategies.
The NFS also seeks to detect and shut down vulnerabilities in the immigration system that could be exploited by terrorist and criminal organizations.ICE also participates in the interagency Identity & Benefits Fraud Task Force, which seeks to restore integrity to the immigration process and prevent terrorists and criminals from entering the United States.
The task force brings together the expertise and authorities of several immigration and law enforcement agencies, along with prosecutors, to target immigration fraud by sharing information on fraud cases, developing new leads, and identifying trends in immigration fraud. Participants include ICE, the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration, the FBI, the IRS, the US Postal Service, US Attorneys' offices, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Fairfax County Police Department.
Operation Integrity is an IBF Unit initiative to restore integrity to the immigration system and to address vulnerabilities in the system that terrorist or criminal organizations could exploit to gain entry to the country. Operation Integrity will support a nationwide system of "IBF Task Forces" to detect, deter, and disrupt criminal and terrorist organizations that attempt to exploit the immigration system, using the full range of ICE's investigative capabilities to fight IBF fraud.
Sources: Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Association of Chiefs of Police
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.