Federal officials are strengthening efforts to stop immigration fraud partly out of concern that proposals pending in Congress could create a boon for document forgers, USA Today reports. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has created 10 anti-fraud task forces across the nation in addition to an existing unit in Washington, D.C. The task forces have opened 250 probes since they began work in April, says ICE’s Scott Weber. The rising concern over fraud comes as Congress considers a plan to give many of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants a chance to stay legally as guest workers or residents, depending on how long they have lived and worked here. A new law could increase demand for documentation among immigrants seeking to prove their length of residency.
Yesterday, ICE agents arrested 27 people and shut down a Queens, N.Y.-based immigration agency called Help Preparers Professional Services. An indictment alleges that the agency arranged more than 200 fake marriages and sold more than $1 million in bogus “green cards,” marriage and birth certificates, bank letters, and employment records. The amount and sophistication of immigration fraud is increasing, ICE officials say. ICE ran 2,334 fraud probes in 2004 and 3,591 in 2005. Some of the most sophisticated operations are run by smuggling rings.