While there are illegal immigrants who want to work in America, there will also be people who sell fake green cards. In order to legally work in the United States, an immigrant needs a green card to prove that they are a resident alien. The green card is issued by the INS, to immigrants who are legally residing in the United States. There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, to those who are seeking employment and the American dream, a green card is golden.
Everyone is entitled to dream of a better life. Many immigrants wait for years to win a spot in the green card lottery, which is nothing like Powerball, although the odds may seem about the same. These people are looking for the opportunity to prosper in the land of plenty. In order to see how easy it would be to get a green card, I decided that I was going to get myself a green card by the middle of the afternoon, at the latest. How difficult can it be?
I started my quest in the Mission District on a sunny Saturday afternoon. There was a flurry of activity as people went about their day visiting the check-cashing place, taquerias, and 99-cent stores. My friend, who is Mexican was recruited to help me get the green card and assist with any translations. He also lent validity to my story about being a Canadian in need of a green card.
She had a friend who recently arrived from Guadalajara, and went to the Mission for a fake green card so that she could start a temporary job on a fishing boat. Her friend told her that the best place to start looking is in front of the passport photo stores. For those selling green cards, early fall and late spring are their busiest times, because of the number of immigrants working in agriculture.
Like most major cities, San Francisco has a high demand for workers, mostly in the restaurant industries. Recently, a syndicate from Las Vegas tried to muscle in on the New York and San Francisco markets which caused problems usually seen in the gang conflicts of the drug trade, except this was with fake green cards.
In front of a clothing store stood a Latino man in a down jacket and cap. The clothing store was two doors away from the passport photo store. I thought it was suspicious for him to be hanging out there, with a very serious look on his face. When we glanced over at him, he did not make eye contact. My friend and I did not think anything of it until we heard him say to a Latino man that was passing by, “Micas? Micas?” which is street slang for a green card.
When my friend turned, he made eye contact. There was a brief exchange in Spanish, before the guy realized he had a customer, and broke into a grin.
My friend explained that I was from Canada and was looking for a green card.
The man was very open about his business. He did not appear worried that I might be undercover or that he might be busted. He calmly escorted us into the passport-photo store to have my picture taken for my fake green card.
The black market seller gave the store’s proprietor a nod. The store owner seemed to know what was happening, obviously, this man was supplying the passport-photo store with a steady stream of customers. I’ve heard some stores even pay a percentage for this. I stand in line behind a kid with glasses, while the black market pricing is explained.
A fake green card costs $25.
A fake social security card costs $25.
A real passport photo for the fake green card costs $10.
When I asked if I could just get the green card. The black market seller became upset. Because of the risk, they only sell the cards as a package. I got my photo taken and the black market seller hands me an envelope to write my birthday and to sign my name, for the cards.