Investigators enter US with fake documents

| 8/2/2006

A new investigation from the Government Accountability Office claims the Homeland Security Department is not where it needs to be in terms of border security.

In testimony Wednesday before the Senate Finance Committee, Gregory Kutz, managing director of forensic audits and special investigations for the GAO, said undercover agents managed to cross into the U.S. from both Mexico and Canada between February and June using fake documents such as driver’s licenses and birth certificates.

What’s more, Kutz said the fake documents used the same name that was used in a similar border security check in 2003.

On three occasions, Kutz said, the agents were able to cross the border on foot. And on two occasions, in Texas and Arizona, agents were able to cross without being asked for any identification documents.

In one instance, the undercover agent offered to show his identification to a Customs and Border Patrol officer, who then let the agent pass without actually looking at the license, Kutz said.

Upon being briefed of the investigation and its findings, CBP officials told the GAO that its officers are not able to identify all forms of counterfeit identification and that CBP supports the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which will require all travelers in the Western Hemisphere to have a passport or other secure documentation to enter or reenter the U.S.

Kutz said in his testimony that the problems found by GAO investigators must be addressed before the Western Hemisphere initiative moves forward.

“This vulnerability potentially allows terrorists or others involved in criminal activity to pass freely into the United States from Canada or Mexico with little or no chance of being detected,” he said.