Columbus, New Mexico - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the Columbus port of entry apprehended a man yesterday morning who was impersonating a U.S. citizen in his attempt to illegally enter the U.S.
"Our CBP officers' ability to detect imposters using legitimate documents and prevent suspected immigration law violators from entering our country is attributed to their training which is vital and allows them to perform their inspectional duties and support our CBP mission," said Robert Reza, CBP Columbus Port director.
The apprehension was made at approximately 3:00 a.m. when a 46-year-old man entered the Columbus crossing from Mexico. The man told CBP officers he was a U.S. citizen and presented a birth certificate from Los Angeles and a Wyoming driver's license bearing his photograph and an assumed name.
CBP officers performed a fingerprint query on the subject and discovered that the name on the documents did not match the person who was attempting to enter. CBP identified the suspect as Jose Manuel Lujan Perez after his fingerprint query showed that he had previously been deported at the Nogales, Arizona port of entry. He was referred to secondary examination for further inspection. Fingerprint database examination revealed a criminal record for prior deportation. Lujan Perez admitted that his brother in law had assisted him in obtaining a driver's license and identification card by loaning him his Los Angeles birth certificate.
CBP enforcement officers presented the case to the Assistant United States Attorney who accepted federal prosecution for misuse of documents (impostor). Impostors generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. Violators generally lose their documents, can be prosecuted and go to jail and/or are returned to Mexico.
Lujan Perez was found to be inadmissible pursuant to section 212(a)(6)(c)(ii) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), false claim to U.S. citizenship and was paroled into the U.S. pending criminal and removal proceedings. If convicted, the defendant faces a fine or a sentence of not more than 10 years or both.
CBP enforcement officers booked him into the Luna County detention center where he is currently being held without bond on the immigration charges.
CBP Field Operations is responsible for securing our borders at the ports of entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers' primary mission is anti-terrorism; they screen all people, vehicles, and goods entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel into and out of the United States. Their mission also includes carrying out traditional border-related responsibilities, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration law, protecting the nation's food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases, and enforcing trade laws.