Related topics

INS Ignores Aliens with False Papers, Report Charges

October 23, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Federal immigration officials have made no effort to find or deport aliens who buy false IDs, and they do nothing to stop them from using the bogus documents to sign up for welfare and other government benefits, according to auditors.

Even when the Immigration and Naturalization Service knows about fraud, it does not mark the offender’s file to warn officials should they encounter the same person again, the Justice Department inspector general said in a report Wednesday.

Investigators examined 36 case files and more than 2,400 aliens who benefited from fraudulent document schemes.

``We found no evidence that INS had attempted to pursue any of the aliens who benefited from the document fraud,″ the report said.

It said the INS gives higher priority to border control, prosecuting employers who hire illegal aliens, deporting aliens who commit crimes here and those who operate criminal fraud schemes. People who buy or bribe INS officials for false documents are near the bottom of the priority list.

``They are not usually prosecuted, and INS spends only a minimal effort on them,″ the report said.

INS officials said they lack the staff to pursue these offenders and don’t have enough space to hold them during deportation proceedings. They said the deportation process is laden with legal reviews, with a slim chance of actual deportation.

``From the INS managers’ perspective, given the lack of actual deportations, they find it hard to justify the effort and resources necessary to put the aliens who participated as customers into deportation proceedings,″ the report said.

Additionally, INS managers told investigators there is pressure to process benefit applications quickly, and they were reluctant to slow things down to initiate deportation proceedings for aliens with false documents.

``We can understand the pessimism of INS employees,″ the inspector general’s report said. ``The reasons INS officers gave for not pursuing aliens may have some merit, but do not justify INS’ lack of action against most aliens who pay a bribe or knowingly buy false or stolen documents.″

Aliens can obtain false documents by buying counterfeit papers on the open market. Or they can bribe an INS official to sell a legitimate document, to change their status in the INS computer or to act favorably on an application for a benefit or document.

In Newark, N.J., for example, a former immigration agent who admitted taking a $4,000 bribe was sentenced Wednesday to 16 months in prison and fined $15,000. DeAndre Rudolph pled guilty to taking the bribe in exchange for a metal template used by INS to produce green cards.

INS offers a variety of benefits to aliens who can prove they are here legally, including the right to live in the United States as a permanent resident, to leave and enter the country, to work, eventual citizenship and to bring in relatives as legal, permanent residents.

Most federal welfare benefits are denied to illegal aliens. But having their status changed in the INS database could theoretically qualify them for

Supplemental Security Income, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, food stamps, unemployment benefits, public housing assistance, aid for college and employment training.

That adds up to $1,193 to $2,566 a month, depending on the state, for a family of four, the report said. But just how much illegal aliens cost the government through such schemes is not know, the report said.

A lot, says the chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, immediately seizing on the report.

``The American taxpayer is being ripped off for millions and millions of dollars as a result of the INS’ failure to even look for illegal aliens who have fraudulently obtained documents,″ said Rep. William F. Clinger Jr., R-Pa.

Update hourly