View From Lodi, CA: How Miguel Got His Papers

My former student
“Miguel” returned to the classroom last week. He had
more good news to share.

Regular readers
will


recall
that “Miguel” recently has
moved on to bigger and much better things. He landed a
$22 an hour construction job with full benefits. The
only problem is that Miguel is an


illegal alien.
By working his
construction job, Miguel is keeping an American or a
legal immigrant


unemployed.

Many inquired how
it was possible for Miguel land such a good job without
proper documentation. The sad answer is that Miguel has
all his papers. They`re phony, of course, but they`re
good enough to get him hired.

Miguel isn`t going
to need his bogus documents too much longer. “All my
paper work is in order,” he told me.

As Miguel spoke, my
mind ticked off the possible ways he might qualify for a
green card. But I drew a blank. Miguel wasn`t part of an
amnesty, he hasn`t married and he has no visa. Finally,
I asked him how that was possible.

The answer: $2,500
up front to an Immigration and Naturalization Services
employee in Los Angeles with $2,500 to follow when the
deal is done.

I have a Salvadoran
student who is a very enterprising fellow, too. “Raul”
asked me to write a letter on school stationery stating
that he has been in the U.S. long enough to qualify for


Temporary Protected Status
.

Under T.P.S.,
Salvadorans who have been in the U.S. since February 13,
2001, the date of the second of two devastating
earthquakes in El Salvador, can apply for work permits. 

When I told Raul
that the I.N.S. could determine his U.S. arrival date by
checking school records, he wasn`t discouraged. The


Roman Catholic Church
, Raul informed
me, had given him a letter. And Raul was certain he
could get a second letter from his


fast-food employer
.

Adding to Raul`s
confidence is his


sort-of engagement
to an American
citizen. My guess is that if Raul`s letters come
through, the girl is gone. If not, Raul walks down the
aisle. Either way, Raul stays.

For those in the
U.S. illegally, a cornucopia of choices exist for
getting


bogus documentation.
Whatever your
budget, the right set of fake documents is just around
the corner. The leaders of the multibillion-dollar fake
document industry aim to please.

If you have cash
and connections you can purchase stolen, forged, blank
or counterfeit passports. “Breeder documents” such as


driver`s licenses
and


social security cards
are just as easy
to get. Over time, the starter set will allow illegals
to apply for legitimate papers.

A top quality U.S.
passport that will fool anyone costs $25,000. Even
though Justice Department officials insist that it is
increasingly difficult to alter passports, not everyone
agrees.

According to John
Torpey, a University of British Columbia professor and
author of


“The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance,
Citizenship and the State,”
it is a
neck and neck race between those who produce the
document for the governments and those who produce them
fraudulently.”

For those on the
low end of the economic spectrum, $100 is just fine,
thank you.

In Sacramento last
week, 54 Mexican illegal aliens were arrested for
selling fraudulent social security cards at prices
ranging from $70 to $100. A wide selection of drugs and
weapons were also available.

Corrupt
officials–like the one that helped Miguel–can speed
things along. In Tennessee Katherine Smith, a driver`s
license examiner, was

arrested
for allowing five illegal
Middle Easterners to obtain their licenses even though
they did not take a driving test.

The five weren`t
even Tennessee residents. Proving that no obstacle is
too great, they had driven from New York to Tennessee -
a state


infamous

for granting licenses to illegals.

In a bizarre twist,
Smith was


found dead

on February 12 in
rural Memphis after her car apparently ran off the
highway and crashed into a light pole. She had been
scheduled to appear in court the next day.

The odd timing of
Smith`s fatality and the unusually intense fire inside
the car triggered an FBI investigation. Some


suspect
connections between the five
defendants and the September 11th attacks.

Said FBI spokesman
George Bolds, “if there were individuals involved with
her [in the driver`s license scheme] who were concerned
about their participation being known as a result of her
prosecution, they might have a motive to do her harm.”

The only way to end
the sham of fake documents and corrupt officials is to


seal our borders
and tighten
procedures at overseas consulate offices. Once illegal
aliens set foot inside the country, it`s game, set and
match in their favor. Illegal aliens go underground to
purchase the false IDs needed to blend into the
mainstream – assuming the federal government doesn`t
dream up some accommodating program like


amnesty
or temporary protected status.

Keeping illegal
immigrants out of the country should be our number one
priority.

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the


Lodi News-Sentinel
.