U.S. national security officials working at a Texas checkpoint recently discovered that a Mexican national had committed document fraud by using the name of a fellow Border Patrol agent. The 24-year-old immigrant had a driver's license, birth certificate and Social Security card in the name of the agent, local media reports said.
The immigrant, identified as Orlando Castaneda-Diaz, was on a Houston-bound bus when he was stopped around 1 a.m. He said he purchased the documents in Mexico for $2,000 before illegally crossing the border April 12. He later shaved his head to appear more like the Border Patrol agent pictured on the license.
Castaneda-Diaz faces charges of making a false claim to U.S. citizenship. He was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for a detention hearing.
Document fraud poses "a severe threat to national security and public safety" that can allow immigrants to enter and remain in the United States, federal immigration officials say. Recently, more than a dozen immigrants in Texas were arrested for using false documents to obtain work. They face up to 20 years in federal prison and deportation.
Overall, fewer immigrants are crossing from Mexico into the United States, according to federal data. Roughly 98,000 people were caught illegally entering the U.S. through Mexico during the first four months of the current fiscal year. In 2000, agents stopped 1.6 million people along the Mexican border.
At the same time, Mexico is increasingly cracking down on illegal immigration. Mexican officials deported more than 25,000 Central Americans so far this year, almost double the number in the same period last year, Global Post reported. “This data shows that Central Americans are still fleeing their countries in large numbers, and that Mexico has taken on the responsibility of strict immigration enforcement traditionally filled by United States,” said Clay Boggs, program officer for the Mexico program of the Washington Office on Latin America.