MAY 07, 2008
Federal agents have busted a major smuggling operation in which illegal immigrants from “special interest” countries obtained authentic drivers licenses from a state that doesn’t require applicants to prove legal status in the U.S.
This is just the latest example of the national security threat created by a handful of states—New Mexico, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, Utah and Washington—that allow illegal immigrants to get drivers licenses with easily forged documents such as a tax identification number, foreign passport or the laughable Mexican government-issued identification card known as “matricula consular.”
In this case illegal immigrants from countries considered by the U.S. government to be of special national security concern flocked to New Mexico to exploit its lax drivers license system. A Brazilian man and a Kazakhstan woman have been charged with running the operation and at least 10 illegal immigrants have been arrested.
Federal agents say the lucrative enterprise ran smoothly, with several illegal immigrants who lived in New Mexico charging thousands of dollars to help other illegals travel to the state to get licenses. They used fake bank statements and pay stubs as well as other fraudulent documents to get the highly-touted cards.
The FBI is still trying to determine how many illegal aliens from countries that present a national security threat actually obtained licenses, although agents estimate that dozens got the official New Mexico cards in the past few months alone.
This serious national security breach was facilitated by Governor Bill Richardson, who signed the 2003 law allowing foreign nationals, including those living in the U.S. illegally, to obtain drivers licenses in his state. The former Democratic presidential candidate said the law, which has enabled about 45,000 illegal immigrants to get licenses, improves public safety.
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