ICE Investigating Morales True Identity
February 23, 2008, 6:04 PM
The driver of the van who involved in the deadly Cottonwood school bus crash identified herself as 23-year-old Alianiss Morales of Minneota, Minnesota. But United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents say that's not her name. She's been using a fake ID and living in the United States illegally. And it's their job to figure out who she is.
The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE was created in 2003. In that first year, ICE agents helped find and deport about 150,000 illegal immigrants. In 2007, more than 270,000 were deported.
But there are many illegal immigrants living in the United States under the radar of ICE officials. And one is now facing multiple charges in Minnesota.
People come to this country to make better lives for themselves, but not all of them take the proper steps to do so legally.
"There's no question that illegal immigration is a serious problem in this country," ICE Spokesman Tim Counts said.
Counts says illegal immigration is a problem that has been building in the United States for decades and it's not an issue that can be solved quickly. But ICE is not alone in their efforts of stopping the illegal activity.
"Customs and border protection which has jurisdiction of the borders has significantly ramped up not only the personnel of the border patrol, but also technologies to crack down," Counts said.
After she was arrested, ICE officials quickly learned the woman charged in connection the deadly Cottonwood bus crash was lying about her identity.
Counts says ICE is now working to find out Alianiss Morales' true identity, much like law enforcement agencies do in other cases.
"We use fingerprints, we use photographs. We use databases, not only our databases which contain millions of individuals, but databases from all other law enforcement agencies," Counts said.
Counts says the situation in Cottonwood, is espcially important to ICE because of the loss of children's lives. But he is confident that ICE will find out who Morales really is.
"Our agents are highly trained and exceptional investigators and I think it's safe to say that we will get to the bottom of the matter," Counts said.
Counts says some parts of the investigation are difficult because Morales in not in their custody. They would gain custody if she chooses to bail out of the Lyon County Jail, because ICE has a detainer on her.
© 2008 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.
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