By R. Mitchell –
NEW ORLEANS —U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) New Orleans agents arrested 15 illegal aliens, including one unaccompanied minor, who were suspected of using fraudulent documents at the Gulf Coast Safety Council (GCSC) in St. Rose, La., Wednesday morning.
USBP agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, and Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of Investigations special agents encountered the individuals at the GCSC, which provides industry-specific safety training for multiple local employers. The suspects had what appeared to be counterfeit social security cards and driver’s licenses. After a brief investigation, 14 Mexican suspects and one Nicaraguan suspect were found to be illegal aliens and were arrested.
“These arrests represent a beautiful example of Department of Homeland Security components working together to ensure national security,” said USBP New Orleans Sector Chief Gregory Bovino. “Illegal aliens can use fake identification to thwart the E-Verify System used by some corporations. Some of these companies constitute critical infrastructure, such as chemical plants or refineries, where the potential exists for possible terrorist attack or sabotage.”
Bovino added that this type of identity fraud can be detrimental to U.S. citizens.
“The damage stemming from illegal aliens fraudulently using social security numbers can cause serious problems for United States citizens well into the future, including tax issues and poor credit ratings,” he explained.
“Social Security number integrity has enormous financial consequences for the Government, the public, and the business community,” said Adam D. Schneider, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, Dallas Field Division. “The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General is committed to ensuring our national security by working with our law enforcement partners to identify people who use fraudulent identification documents and Social Security numbers to hide their true identity.”
The incident is currently being investigated by SSA and Homeland Security Investigations. The 14 adults are currently being held in the St. Tammany Parish jail while awaiting possible federal prosecution from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The unaccompanied minor was processed for removal from the United States, and has been turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
The USBP-New Orleans Sector is located in the historic Custom House, located on Canal Street in New Orleans, and is responsible for patrolling areas between the ports of entry in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. Individuals can report suspicious activity by calling (504) 376-2800.
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