If you thought the New Year's Eve FBI manhunt for illegal aliens
with fake passports was a disturbing sign of homeland insecurity, wait until
you hear about who's been working on President George W. Bush's 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
This illegal alien had been ordered kicked out of the country by
the Immigration and Naturalization Service 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 nation's 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 Washington's 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
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, Texas, 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, Texas, 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 driver's
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
As for Martinez-Gonzalez/"Rodriguez," he left HDO Productions
sometime in the fall. Company president Jerry O'Connell said he was not
aware of any immigration problems and that Martinez-Gonzalez/"Rodriguez's"
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 can't 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?