Border Agent Said To Be Smuggler

Onell R. Soto and Leslie Berestein, San Diego Union-Tribune, Aug. 5

A Mexican man who used a fake U.S. birth certificate to get into the Border Patrol was helping to smuggle illegal immigrants, authorities said yesterday.

Oscar Antonio Ortiz, 28, an El Cajon-based Border Patrol agent on administrative leave, was arrested yesterday and charged in San Diego federal court with falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen.

He also is charged with conspiring with another Border Patrol agent to smuggle immigrants and is scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court this morning.

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Border Patrol agents must be U.S. citizens.

According to papers filed in court yesterday, Ortiz claimed to have been a U.S. citizen born in Chicago when he applied for the Border Patrol job in October 2001.

He provided a copy of an Illinois birth certificate. But when investigators checked the number on that document with records there, they discovered it belonged to someone else.

Ortiz, according to the court filing, was born in Tijuana and remains a Mexican citizen.

The idea that someone could be hired to guard the border by using false citizenship documents is “mind-boggling,” said T.J. Bonner, the San Diego-based president of the National Border Patrol Council.

“I would think that would be the very first thing they would check,” Bonner said.

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