Philadelphia - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers refused entry to an Albanian man Friday at Philadelphia International Airport after officers determined the man to be an impostor to the fraudulently altered Italian passport he possessed.
The 19-year-old Albanian national escaped federal criminal charges; however, he remains detained pending a credible fear hearing.
The traveler arrived from Germany and presented himself to a CBP officer as an Italian citizen during his primary inspection and requested admission as a non-immigrant visitor. The CBP officer suspected that the man's Italian passport was altered. The officer also detected inconsistencies in the passenger's story and referred him to a secondary inspection.
Under closer examination, CBP officers detected an alteration to the Italian passport in which the traveler's picture was substituted for the genuine passport holder's photograph. Meanwhile, CBP officers also discovered documents related to the man's true identity in his luggage, including the man's genuine Albanian passport.
The man then admitted to CBP officers his true identity, which was confirmed through a biometric match. The Albanian man admitted that he traveled to Italy and purchased a passport for the purpose of illegally gaining admission to the United States. He said he traveled from Italy to Germany and then to the United States where he arrived shortly before 4:00 p.m. Friday. He planned to remain in the United States.
"Customs and Border Protection officers are our nation's front line protectors charged with securing our borders against bad people and bad things, including those who wish to make a mockery of our nation's immigration laws," said Allan Martocci, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. "This is a great example of exceptional officers demonstrating impressive skills at detecting an impostor to another identity and in catching subtle alterations in a legitimate foreign passport."
If his credible fear complaint is determined to be unfounded, he will be returned to CBP officers who will process him for departure from the United States.