Weaknesses In Screening Entrants Into the United States

GAO-03-438T: Published: Jan 30, 2003. Publicly Released: Jan 30, 2003.

Additional Materials:


Donald G. Fulwider


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

This testimony discusses the weakness in screening entrants into the United States. This work was completed in response to a request that agents of the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) attempt to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, and Jamaica at land, air, and sea ports of entry using fictitious identities and counterfeit identification documents. The purpose was to test whether U.S. government officials conducting inspections at the port of entry would detect the counterfeit identification documents.

We created fictitious driver's licenses and birth certificates using off-the-shelf computer graphic software that is available to any purchaser. In addition, we obtained and carried credit cards in the fictitious names that were used in these tests. Our agents entered the United States from Canada, Mexico, and Jamaica through ports of entry using fictitious names and these counterfeit identification documents. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and U.S. Customs Service officials never questioned the authenticity of the counterfeit documents, and our agents encountered no difficulty entering the country using them. On two occasions, INS officials did not ask for or inspect any identification documents when our agents entered the United States. On another occasion an agent was able to walk across a major border checkpoint and was not stopped or inspected by any government official.

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