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Illegal Green Cards Cost You $110 in NYC

NYC- From the NY Post: For an illegal immigrant desperately seeking to work in New York City, getting a high-quality forged green card or Social Security card is almost as easy as buying a soft-shell taco, a Post investigation has found.

The well-organized underground market that churns out these fraudulent documents is surprisingly easy to penetrate – The Post was able to find a man who deals in the bogus cards and buy one in just under three hours.

After speaking with immigrant advocates and a few streetwise sources, this reporter arranged a face-to-face meeting in Queens with a 20-something Hispanic man known in the neighborhood as “Flaco” [pictured right] – the Spanish word for thin.

Soft-spoken, low key and simply dressed in a button-down shirt that covered the waistband of his jeans, Flaco didn’t appear to be threatening at all – surprising, considering that these sophisticated green-card mills are run by vicious Latin American gangs.

The groups carve up territory block by block and use bullets to deal with competitors who venture onto their lucrative turf.

Flaco led me across Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, under a rumbling No. 7 train, keeping a few paces ahead of me. His eyes continually surveyed the block for cops, but he didn’t notice a Post photographer sitting in a nearby car.

We jetted past men heading into bars to watch the World Cup, and women who ran errands with their kids, popping in and out of the stores.

We spoke only in Spanish.

“I was told it would cost $110 for the green card and Social [Security card],” I said nervously.

“Sure, no problem,” Flaco answered.

His calmness made me uneasy. Leery of undercover cops and immigration investigators, I was also worried that there could be a posse of unseen thugs working with Flaco that might try to rip off my cash.

Illegals looking for fake documents can’t exactly call the NYPD.

Gesturing with his long, skinny arms, Flaco led me to a nearby photo-lab store run by an Asian couple. He motioned to a small wooden stool partially behind the L-shaped glass counter.

He was so secure in his environment, he acted as if he owned the place.

A Latino photo-lab worker jumped to attention and trained an expensive digital camera on me. The Asian couple tended to other customers, minding their business.

“Look at the flag,” the Latino barked, as he gestured to a small American flag wedged into the wall.

After handing the Asian woman $6 for the photo, Flaco whipped out a small pink sheet of paper and told me to write my name, date of birth and country of origin.

I scribbled “Douglas Montero” but made up everything else.

Flaco was all business. He didn’t ask any questions about my “illegal immigrant” life or problems or what I intended to do with my fake green card.

He simply didn’t care – he just wanted the money.

“Come back in an hour,” Flaco said as he ushered me out of the store. “Wait for me outside the shopping center, not inside, because they have cameras.”

His behavior made it clear he didn’t want me asking any questions and, most importantly, didn’t want me to have any idea where the green-card processing “factory” was hidden, or where my forged card would be churned out.

Later, outside the shopping center underneath the No. 7 train, Flaco appeared to emerge from nowhere and said it would take about 15 more minutes. He took up his corner spot 100 feet away, near a taco stand, and trolled for more customers who crossed his path.

After a short time, I found him walking toward me with an accomplished look on his face. Flaco passed me a folded small white envelope containing the fake green and Social Security cards.

I backed up a bit toward the front entrance of a building, but Flaco was remarkably relaxed as he openly counted the cash I had just handed him.

“Could I see it?” I asked.

“Yeah, go ahead,” he responded.

My fake green card looked a lot more real than I had been expecting.

“So I could get a job with this?” I asked.

“Of course,” Flaco answered, eager to move on to his next customer.

The sale of these fraudulent cards is a cottage industry that rakes in millions a year – but no one knows the number of green cards sold daily here. Based on the quality of the work and low cost, from $75 to $120, it appears certain the industry is flourishing.

Immigration experts who reviewed my fake green card agreed the document looks authentic – but said that upon closer examination, slight flaws became obvious. “I would say a person that does not deal with these green cards will take this as a genuine one,” said Maria Delgado, who has seen hundreds of green cards at the Immigration Center at the St. Francis of Assisi Church in Midtown. “A potential employer is not familiar with green cards – and besides, they need the workers, so they won’t really question the legitimacy of the cards.”

Buyers wrongly believe the fakes can be used to get driver’s licenses, open bank accounts, travel domestically and allow them to function like any other legal resident.

But the cards will get illegals a lifetime ban from the United States if they are caught.

“Anyone who starts using fake IDs is putting themselves in more hot water – if they get caught, they’ll get deported and it will be a lifetime deportation,” said Antonio Meloni, the director of the Queens-based Immigration Advocacy Service Inc.


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