If you thought the New Years Eve FBI manhunt for illegal aliens with fake passports was a disturbing sign of homeland insecurity, wait until you hear about whos been working on President George W. Bushs front lawn.
While the Secret Service has now instituted criminal and citizenship screening procedures for all tourists (including children) who visit the White House, federal agents failed to detect an illegal alien who used a false identity and fraudulent documents and was employed for at least two years as a supervisor of tent installation for White House social events.
This illegal alien had been ordered kicked out of the country by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in February 2000, but was able to evade the law and fool both his employer and the Secret Service through petty identity fraud. He was finally caught at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, but it was no thanks to the law enforcement agents in Washington who are assigned to protect the White House from unknown intruders.
Posing as "Kelvin Rodriguez," a Mexican citizen named Salvador Martinez-Gonzalez worked for HDO Productions Inc., which bills itself as "the nations most respected provider of special event tent and accessory rentals." The company designs elaborate outdoor settings for galas, weddings and government functions.
Martinez-Gonzalez had access to the White House grounds, the Pentagon and NASA, and rubbed elbows with Washingtons most powerful officials-from former President Bill Clinton to current Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne. Martinez-Gonzalez kept festive photos of himself with Clinton and the Cheneys as souvenirs to show off his insider access.
On Dec. 2, 2002, according to a Justice Department intelligence report I obtained, Martinez-Gonzalez tried to return to the U.S. from a trip to Mexico. He showed up at the Laredo, Tex. port of entry claiming to be a U.S. citizen and provided inspectors with the photos of himself with Clinton and the Cheneys.
A routine fingerprint and immigration database check showed that he had been apprehended in Brownsville, Tex. two years ago, and at that time was ordered to leave the country. He should have been immediately detained for fraudulent entry and kicked out.
But Martinez-Gonzalez was neither detained nor removed from the U.S., as required by federal law. Instead, immigration officials learned, Martinez-Gonzalez was freed and purchased a birth certificate from the real Kelvin Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican national who lent his identity to Martinez-Gonzalez. According to the intelligence report, Rodriguez helped Martinez-Gonzalez obtain a U.S. Social Security card, Maryland drivers license and a U.S. passport.
According to the report, Martinez-Gonzalez/"Rodriguez" moved to the Maryland suburbs and began to work for HDO Productions. An Associated Press article shows that the company had past problems with illegal labor at the White House.
In the summer of 1998, immigration officials arrested two Mexican nationals who worked for HDO Productions and were trying to gain access to the White House grounds using fake alien registration cards. Secret Service officers detained them after they presented the fake documents. The U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia authorized prosecution for possession of fraudulent documents, and the two workers were reportedly deported.
As for Martinez-Gonzalez/"Rodriguez," he left HDO Productions sometime in the fall. Company president Jerry OConnell said he was not aware of any immigration problems and that Martinez-Gonzalez/"Rodriguezs" departure had nothing to do with immigration-related fraud.
According to the DOJ intelligence report, the FBI and Secret Service were both contacted by immigration investigators for further interviewing of this illegal alien impostor. But an FBI spokesman in Washington, D.C., said he was unfamiliar with the case. My calls to the White House were unreturned. The Secret Service refused to comment.
Hopefully, President Bush will have better luck getting answers. For if his own guardians cant keep low-level, illegal border-crossing identity impostors out of the White House backyard, how in the world can we count on his administration to keep far more sophisticated, illegal alien evildoers-like the five that President Bush personally ordered hunted down last week-out of ours?