From WBEZ Radio, Chicago: After we aired a story about Puerto Rican drug addicts who were sent to unlicensed 24-hour group treatment programs in Chicago, we heard from lots of listeners. They were disturbed by one particular detail in reporter Adriana Cardona-Maguigad’s investigation: that the groups routinely confiscate addicts’ identifying documents, and sometimes don’t return them.
In fact, in a tension-filled scene in Cardona-Maguigad’s story, she accompanied one man to retrieve his documents from one of these treatment programs, a place called Segunda Vida.
Our listeners wrote us to ask: What are these groups doing with the addicts’ papers? If they’re really trying to keep those documents safe, as Cardona-Maguigad was told by a founder of Segunda Vida, then why would they keep the papers even after an addict leaves? Could they be selling these addicts’ identities on the black market?
It turns out, where Puerto Ricans are concerned, there’s added reason for suspicion. Puerto Ricans’ identities are especially valuable, because they’re U.S. citizens -- with Social Security numbers -- and Spanish names.
In a federal case against an alleged Puerto Rican identity trafficking ring, law enforcement agents found that a set that included a birth certificate and Social Security card could fetch up to $2,500 on the black market. With that, an undocumented immigrant from South or Central America could obtain work authorization, a line of credit or even a U.S. passport. Read more....
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