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entitled 'Counterfeit Documents Used to Enter the United States From 
Certain Western Hemisphere Countries Not Detected' which was released 
on May 13, 2003.

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Before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims, 
House Committee on the Judiciary:

For Release on Delivery 
Expected at 2:00 p.m. EDT
Tuesday, May 13, 2003:


Statement of Robert J. Cramer, Managing Director
Office of Special Investigations:


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

I am here today to discuss the results of security tests we performed 
in which agents of the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), acting 
in an undercover capacity, entered the United States from various 
countries in the Western Hemisphere using counterfeit documentation and 
fictitious identities. This work was initially undertaken at the 
request of the Senate Finance Committee and was continued at your 
request.[Footnote 1] The purpose of our tests was to determine whether 
U. S. government officials conducting inspections at ports of entry 
would detect the counterfeit identification documents.

I am accompanied this morning by Ronald Malfi, Director for 
Investigations, and Special Agent Ramon Rodriguez.

In summary, we created counterfeit identification documents in order to 
establish fictitious identities for our agents by using off-the-shelf 
computer graphic software that is available to any purchaser. The 
agents entered the United States from Jamaica, Barbados, Mexico, and 
Canada using fictitious names, counterfeit driver's licenses and birth 
certificates. Bureau of Customs & Border Protection (BCBP)[Footnote 2] 
staff never questioned the authenticity of the counterfeit documents, 
and our agents encountered no difficulty entering the country using 
them. On two occasions, BCBP staff did not ask for any identification 
when our agents entered the United States from Mexico and Canada. We 
have briefed BCBP officials on the results and methods of our work.


Immigration regulations require that all persons who arrive at a U.S. 
port of entry be inspected by a government official. A U.S. citizen 
traveling from countries in the Western Hemisphere, such as those we 
visited for purposes of these tests, is not required to show a passport 
when entering the United States but is required to prove citizenship. 
BCBP accepts as proof of citizenship documents, such as a United 
States' state or federally issued birth certificate or a baptismal 
record, and photo identification such as a driver's license. However, 
since the law does not require that U.S. citizens who enter the United 
States from Western Hemisphere countries present documents to prove 
citizenship they are permitted to establish U.S. citizenship by oral 
statements alone.

Border Crossings:

U.S. Border Crossing from Jamaica:

Two of our agents traveling on one-way tickets from Jamaica arrived at 
an airport in the United States. After landing at the U.S. airport, the 
two agents proceeded to the immigration checkpoint and presented to 
BCBP immigration inspectors counterfeit driver's licenses in fictitious 
names along with fictitious birth certificates purportedly issued by 
two different states. One BCBP inspector asked one of the agents for 
his date of birth, and inquired about where and when the agent had 
obtained the birth certificate. The agent stated that he had obtained 
the birth certificate about 4 or 5 years earlier. A different BCBP 
inspector did not question the second agent. The BCBP inspectors did 
not recognize any of the documents presented as counterfeit and allowed 
the agents to enter the United States.

U.S. Border Crossing from Barbados:

Barbados immigration officials provide visitors entering Barbados with 
a two-part immigration form to complete. They collect one part and 
return the second part to the visitor stamped with the date of entry 
into Barbados. Visitors are instructed to return the second part to 
immigration officials upon departing Barbados. In May 2003, two of our 
agents departed Barbados and provided Barbados immigration officials 
with unstamped immigration forms in fictitious names. Barbados 
officials accepted the forms without questioning why they were not 

Two agents traveled on one-way tickets from Barbados and arrived at an 
airport in the United States. The two agents separately proceeded to 
the immigration checkpoint and were checked by the same BCBP 
immigration inspector. One agent was asked for his passport, and he 
responded that did not have one. The agent provided a fictitious birth 
certificate and a Customs declaration form. The BCBP inspector reviewed 
the documents and asked for picture identification. In response to this 
request, the agent provided a counterfeit driver's license. The BCBP 
inspector then asked the agent several questions, reviewed the 
documents again, asked additional questions, and instructed the agent 
to proceed through Customs. The agent provided the BCBP customs officer 
with the Customs form and subsequently left the airport without any 
further scrutiny.

The second agent had a similar experience. The BCBP immigration 
inspector asked for a passport. The agent explained that he did not 
have one and provided a counterfeit birth certificate. The BCBP 
inspector then asked for picture identification and the agent offered 
to produce a driver's license. The BCBP inspector did not ask to see 
the driver's license but asked several questions and then instructed 
the agent to proceed to Customs. The agent turned in his Customs form 
to a Customs official and then left the airport without any further 

The BCBP immigration inspector did not question any of the counterfeit 

U.S. Border Crossings from Mexico:

On two occasions our agents crossed the border from Mexico into the 
United States. On one occasion, at a land border crossing, a BCBP 
immigration inspector asked our agent if he was a U.S. citizen and 
whether he had brought anything across the border from Mexico. After 
the agent responded that he was a U.S. citizen and that he was not 
bringing anything into the United States from Mexico, the inspector 
allowed him to proceed without requiring any proof of identity.

On a subsequent occasion at the same border crossing, two of our agents 
were asked for identification by separate BCBP inspectors. Both agents 
presented counterfeit driver's licenses and were allowed to cross into 
the United States.

U.S. Border Crossings from Canada:

On three occasions our agents crossed the border from Canada into the 
United States. The first border crossing occurred when two agents 
entered the United States through a sea port of entry from Canada. On 
that occasion, the agents were not asked to show identification. On a 
subsequent occasion, two agents, driving a rented car with Canadian 
plates, using fictitious names and counterfeit documents, crossed the 
border into the United States at a Canadian border crossing. A BCBP 
immigration inspector asked for identification and was provided the 
counterfeit documents. After the inspector reviewed the documents, the 
agents were allowed to cross the border.

During the Canadian land border crossing, the agents discovered a 
further potential security problem. A park straddles the U.S. and 
Canada at this border crossing. One of our agents was able to walk 
across this park into the United States from Canada without being 
stopped or questioned by any U.S. government official. Later, that 
agent walked back to Canada through this park without being inspected 
by Canadian authorities.


We recognize that weaknesses in inspection processes for entrants into 
the United States raise complex issues, and we are currently performing 
an evaluation of those processes, which will be reported to Congress in 
the coming months.[Footnote 3] Although BCBP inspects millions of 
people who enter the United States and detects thousands of individuals 
who attempt to enter illegally each year, the results of our work 
indicate that BCBP inspectors are not readily capable of detecting 
counterfeit identification documents. Further, people who enter the 
United States are not always asked to present identification. While 
current law does not require that U.S. Citizens who enter the U.S. from 
Western Hemisphere countries provide documentary proof of U.S. 
citizenship, this does provide an opportunity for individuals to enter 
the United States illegally.

Mr. Chairman, this completes my prepared statement. We will be pleased 
to respond to any questions you or other members of the committee may 
have at this time.



[1] Part of this work is described in our January 30, 2003, testimony 
before the Finance Committee entitled Weaknesses in Screening Entrants 
into the United States (GAO-03-438T).

[2] Pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the inspection of 
people and goods functions of the Immigration and Naturalization 
Service (INS) and U.S. Customs Service were transferred to the 
Department of Homeland Security (DHS). On March 1, 2003, BCBP became an 
official agency of DHS, which includes the portions of INS and Customs 
that monitor individuals entering the United States. For purposes of 
describing our border crossings prior to the date that BCBP was 
established officially, we refer to staff formerly employed by INS and 
Customs as staff of BCBP. 

[3] This evaluation of the inspection process is being performed 
pursuant to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration 
Responsibility Act of 1996.