52 detenidos en pesquisa sobre "compra" de licencias para conducir en EE.UU.

WASHINGTON — Thousands of illegal immigrants have obtained driver’s licenses in three states, federal authorities said Thursday, highlighting a security hole that the Sept. 11 hijackers exploited.
Three employees of Florida’s motor vehicles agency were among 52 people arrested in a bribery scam that put driver’s licenses in the hands of at least 2,000 illegal immigrants,
officials said. The case, announced Thursday, follows similar arrests in Michigan and Maryland over the past week.
«With a valid driver’s license, you establish an identity,» said Michael Garcia, assistant secretary of the Homeland Security Department.
«There’s no way to identify whether that identity is valid — that you’re not on a terrorist watch list, that you’re not a criminal. It gives you a bona fide,» said Garcia, who heads the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that coordinated the arrests. He said the cases do not appear to be related and there was no evidence of any terrorist connection.
«What we’re looking at is the vulnerability and potential here, and we want to make sure that avenue isn’t open to criminals or people posing a threat to our national security,» he said.
Eighteen of the 19 hijackers involved in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had valid driver’s licenses or state-issued identification cards. At least one of those hijackers was in the United States illegally.
Nine of the 19 had Florida driver’s licenses; three had ID cards issued by the state.
Obtaining driver’s licenses was a priority for the hijackers, said Janice Kephart, counsel to the Sept. 11 commission and an expert on immigration and border security issues. «The object was to appear legitimate,» Kephart said.
So far, 58 people face charges in the three license-for-cash cases.

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