It may be getting harder to sneak into the United States, but once you’ve arrived, getting fake documents in Florida is a piece of cake.
Counterfeit, altered or stolen birth certificates coming from Puerto Rico are the Holy Grail to Florida’s undocumented. With a phony birth certificate you can live the American dream. You can also enroll in school, land a job and get a driver’s license. (It has also been estimated that up to 40 percent of the passport fraud in the United States involves counterfeit or stolen birth certificates from Puerto Rico.)
The racket was made possible thanks to a law passed in 1917 by Congress, which granted U.S. citizenship to all Puerto Ricans. Now, desperate economic times together with eye-popping profits have created a black market where for as little as $25 a birth certificate can be bought and later resold for $5,000.
The fraud has become so common in Florida that four years ago, the Puerto Rican government passed a law that voided all birth certificates issued before 2010, reducing the value of birth certificates being sold on the black market.
All Puerto Ricans living on the island and in the United States had to obtain new birth certificates that included greater security features such as counterfeit proof paper with special seals and motifs to stop counterfeiters from duplicating the documents.
But the new law hasn’t done much to curb fraud.