News & Politics

Massive Fraud: Illegal Aliens Are Using Fake Puerto Rican Birth Certificates to Get U.S. Passports, Licenses

In this Aug. 30, 2010 photo, Alfredo Pagan holds up his birth certificate in Cleveland. Pagan was turned down for a state-issued Ohio identification card because his birth certificate from Puerto Rico was considered invalid. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Puerto Rico’s decade-old economic recession has led to a mass exodus of people from the troubled island to the United States. Along with the dramatic increase in migration from Puerto Rico, there has been an equally dramatic increase in the number of cases involving the use of fake Puerto Rican birth certificates by illegal immigrants.

A recent study found that in 2014 alone, 84,000 people left Puerto Rico for the U.S. mainland. Via Judicial Watch:

One recent news report referred to the Puerto Rican crisis as an economic exodus that could push two-thirds of its population to live in the U.S. The island has an eye-popping $73 billion debt, a collapsing healthcare system and nearly half of its population living in poverty.

Counterfeit, altered or stolen birth certificates coming from Puerto Rico have become so common in Florida that in 2010, the Puerto Rican government passed a law that voided all birth certificates issued before 2010, reducing the value of birth certificates being sold on the black market.

A recent case highlighted by the Miami Herald involved an illegal alien from Colombia who was arrested in Florida after trying to get a U.S. passport with a fake Puerto Rican birth certificate.

Judicial Watch reported:

The 35-year-old man, Edinson Canaveral Sánchez, used a fake Puerto Rican birth certificate to get a valid Florida driver’s license more than three years ago.

The newspaper article points out that this case is the latest in a series involving the use of fake Puerto Rican birth certificates by illegal immigrants in south Florida. In the last year alone more than 12 cases have surfaced in Miami federal court, the story reveals. The defendants, all Spanish-speaking illegal aliens, have all illegally obtained Puerto Rican birth certificates to get American passports or driver’s licenses. Sánchez has been criminally charged and is scheduled to be tried this month in a Broward County federal court.

It turns out that fraud involving Puerto Rican birth certificates has been pervasive for many years, yet the U.S. government and its various agencies accept the documents blindly. The problem got so out of control that back in 2010 Puerto Rico’s government invalidated every birth certificate and issued new ones considered to be safer. One mainstream news report called it a “radical solution to what many say has been a serious and growing crisis involving Puerto Rican birth certificates, which are used to apply for everything from U.S. passports to Medicaid.”

Unfortunately, the 2010 law hasn’t done much to curb fraud.

With 4.9 million Puerto Ricans, according to the last official count, living in the United States and another 3.7 million residing in Puerto Rico, “the numbers just don’t add up,” said Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, a Puerto Rican running for governor in the republican primaries.

“Every day 100 people from Puerto Rico come to live here in Florida,” she said. “We don’t have enough population (referring to the number of people actually born in Puerto Rico) to have all those people coming.”

The discrepancies are staggering. Security Alliance reports that in 2008, 45,622 children were born in Puerto Rico. But in that same year, 860,000 certified copies of birth certificates were issued by the Office of Vital Statistics. Many of these official copies were used to enroll into school, join sports leagues and church groups.

Needless to say, ICE has its hands full with this overwhelming situation. It’s up to state and local governments to adopt tougher laws to help curb the fraud.