Currently, U.S. citizens are not required to present a passport when entering the United States from countries in the Western Hemisphere. However, U.S. citizens are required to establish citizenship to a CBP officer’s satisfaction.
On its Web site, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) advises U.S. citizens that an officer may ask for identification documents as proof of citizenship, including birth certificates or baptismal records and a photo identification document.
In 2003, the Government Accounting Office investigators testified before a congressional committee that CBP officers were not readily capable of identifying whether individuals seeking entry into the United States were using counterfeit identification to prove citizenship. The GAO undercover investigators were able to easily enter the United States from Canada and Mexico using fictitious names and counterfeit driver’s licenses and birth certificates.
Later in 2003 and 2004, undercover investigators continued to successfully enter the United States using counterfeit identification at land border crossings, but were denied entry on one occasion. Because of Congress’s concerns that these weaknesses could possibly be exploited by terrorists or others involved in criminal activity, Congress requested that the GAO assess the current status of security at the nation’s borders.
Specifically, Congress requested that investigators conduct follow-up investigations to determine whether the vulnerabilities exposed in their prior operations continue to exist.
Agents successfully entered the United States using fictitious driver’s licenses and other bogus documentation through nine land ports of entry on the northern and southern borders.
CBP officers never questioned the authenticity of the counterfeit documents presented at any of the nine crossings. On three occasions — in California, Texas, and Arizona — undercover investigators crossed the border on foot.
At two of these locations — Texas and Arizona — CBP allowed the undercovers entry into the United States without asking for or inspecting any identification documents.
After completing their investigation, the GAO briefed officials from CBP on June 9, 2006. CBP agreed that its officers are not able to identify all forms of counterfeit identification presented at land border crossings and fully supports a new initiative that will require all travelers to present a passport before entering the United States.
However, GAO officials did not assess whether this initiative would be effective in preventing terrorists from entering the United States or whether it would fully address the vulnerabilities shown by the work of undercover investigators.
”’Jim Kouri, CPP, is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own Web site is located at”’ http://jimkouri.us
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