"Immigration fraud is reportedly widespread, though reliable estimates of its pervasiveness are not available. Given that an estimated 12 million aliens are residing in the United States without legal authorization, it is reasonable to presume that many of these unauthorized aliens are committing document fraud. The extent to which unauthorized aliens enter with fraudulently obtained documents or acquire bogus documents after entry is not known. Immigration fraud is generally grouped into two types-immigration-related 'document fraud' and immigration 'benefit fraud' ('benefit fraud' involves misrepresentation of a material fact to qualify for a specific immigration status or benefit). Some view immigration fraud as a continuum of events or overlapping crimes because people may commit document fraud en route to benefit fraud. The types of fraud investigations range in circumstances and scope. Many fraud investigations focus on facilitators, i.e., individuals who sell, distribute, or manufacture counterfeit or altered documents, and on organizations that broker largescale illegal schemes such as sham marriage rings or bogus job offers. Investigations of immigration benefit applications are another major activity. Fraud investigations declined overall from FY1992 through FY2003. The cuts in fraud investigations from FY1992 through FY2003 appear to have been generally across the board in terms of types of investigations pursued. CRS data analysis indicates that workyears spent investigating facilitators of counterfeit or altered documents, organizations that broker large-scale illegal schemes, and persons suspected of immigration benefit fraud had all decreased during that period. Successful prosecutions of fraud cases likewise declined from 494 convictions in FY1992 to 250 convictions in FY2003."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34007