False Claims To US Citizenship
Far from a "victimless crime."
Virtually all criminals lie.
Lying is a common tactic used by criminals to conceal their identities, their backgrounds and their crimes. They lie to cover their tracks, to evade detection and to escape from the reach of the “long arm of the law.”
This is why suspects who are taken into custody are fingerprinted and photographed, to attempt to make certain that the name the suspect provides is truly his/her name. Often criminals use multiple false identities whether by committing identity theft or fabricating altogether fictitious identities.
In point of fact, the 9⁄11 Commission found that in the aggregate, the 19 hijackers who participated in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, used more than 300 false identities or variations of false identities to conceal their identities and their movements as they went about their deadly preparations.
The 9⁄11 Commission also identified other terrorists who had entered the United States in the decade leading up to the attacks of 9⁄11 and found that the majority of all of these terrorists engaged in multiple forms of immigration fraud. This was the starting point for my recent article, Immigration Fraud: Lies That Kill.
The act of lying is, itself, a crime when it is done in furtherance of other criminal activities. A section of federal law, 18 U.S. Code § 1001, addresses this crime. Here is how this statute begins:
- Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.
Please notice that the statute cited above noted the potential nexus between false statements and terrorism.
Getting back to immigration, aliens who enter the United States without inspection or who enter the United States legally but then violate the term so their immigration status may lie to authorities about their names, their countries of birth and/or countries of citizenship in order to evade detection by immigration law enforcement, to create the appearance that they are entitled to various public assistance programs or to be able to be employed in the United States and to achieve other illegal goals.
Such false claims to United States citizenship is a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 911. The description of this crime and the punishment for this violation of law is contained in this brief sentence:
Whoever falsely and willfully represents himself to be a citizen of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
The primary goal of illegal aliens is to not be arrested and deported (removed from the United States).
It is not uncommon for illegal aliens to make false claims about being United States citizens when they are encountered by law enforcement. Citizens of countries where Spanish is the predominant language may attempt to pass themselves off as being from Puerto Rico. Citizens of Caribbean countries such as Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and St Lucia may make false claims to having been born in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
They may even purchase birth certificates in false names to back up their claims.
Back when I was an INS special agent, I encountered this sort of situation almost routinely. Some illegal aliens even managed to obtain United States passports under assumed identities.
On May 8, 2017 ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement posted a news release, 15 illegal aliens arrested in East Texas for identity theft that reported on precisely this crime that was allegedly committed by 15 illegal aliens to easily enable them to defeat the E-Verify system by purchasing birth certificates in false names.
Many folks believe that simply mandating the use of E-Verify by all employers would turn off the “job magnet” that draws many illegal aliens to the United States.
In reality, while E-Verify most certainly should be mandatory, without an adequate number of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) personnel to conduct field investigations, unscrupulous employers could still hire people “off the books” and illegal aliens could defeat the system the way that the 15 aliens reported on in the ICE press release did.
Additionally, more than ever before, the public and our political leaders have developed an extreme fascination with statistics. Almost every report about immigration includes the supposedly reliable statistic that there are 11 or 12 million illegal aliens in the United States.
Various “think tanks” periodically release reports in which they provide estimates about the size of the illegal alien population both at large and also the number of such aliens who are incarcerated.
Prior the Amnesty of 1986 that was part and parcel of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), it was estimated that roughly one million illegal alien would “emerge from the shadows” under the auspices of that “one time” amnesty program.
By the time the IRCA amnesty program ended more than 3.5 million such aliens stepped out of the “shadows.”
Some may have entered the United States after the estimate was made and then lied about their actual dates of entry into the United States, however, it is likely that for various reasons, such as the issue of aliens making false claims to United States Citizenship the efforts to estimate the true number were way off base.
What what likely blithely ignored then, as well as today, is how the number of such illegal aliens is determined. Aliens who evade the inspections process at ports of entry do not create a record of arrival as they run the border or, perhaps, stowaway on a ship.
Furthermore, it is not unusual for criminal aliens to make false claims to being citizens of the United States, not unlike those 15 illegal aliens noted previously.
When an alien has been deported and illegally reenters the United States, it is to be expected that in running the individual’s fingerprints, his/her criminal history and immigration history will be discovered.
However, when an illegal alien who is arrested for the first time lies about his/her citizenship, falsely claiming to be a United States citizen, unless that individual is questioned by someone with an understanding as to how to break such false claims to citizenship, there is a strong possibility that the deception will not be caught.
Such a criminal alien may well do his/her sentence and then be released into the community without notification being made to ICE because of the mistaken notion that the criminal is a U.S. citizen.
For INS personnel, one of the items on our training curriculum addressed the tactics by which such false claims to United States citizenship could be uncovered- both during questioning and by other means.
I hope that this class is still being taught at the academy to all ICE personnel, but I am skeptical, considering the way that the Obama administration refused to enforce the immigration law and even turned thousands of criminal aliens loose.
The issue of the training being provided to new ICE agents is one that the current administration must address, and the sooner the better, to make certain that this vital training is mandated for all ICE enforcement personnel.
Irrespective of how ICE agents are trained, this training into breaking false claims to United States citizenship is likely not being provided to any other law enforcement agencies.
Furthermore, where “Sanctuary Cities” are concerned, it is entirely possible that during the arrest and booking process, police and jail officials may simply ask the individual where he was born and dutifully record whatever he says without giving his _claimed_ place of birth or his assertion of being a U.S. citizen a second thought.
It is, in fact, entirely possible that in such sanctuary cities any information about the number of criminal aliens in custody is not reported at all.
Consequently, not only would this result in criminal aliens not being identified and subsequently deported, but statistics concerning the actual number of criminal aliens who are incarcerated would be skewed with the number being reported being smaller, perhaps significantly smaller than the true number, downplaying the true impact of illegal immigration on the criminal justice system.
While there is no reliable way to know the actual number of illegal aliens present in the United States, (we don’t know what we don’t know) one thing is clear- that number is far greater than has been estimated and the detrimental consequences for America and Americans are far greater than most of our elected “representatives” are willing to admit.