Feds warn of hoax immigration mailings

A fraudulent letter being sent to immigrants and purporting to be from a federal immigration agency is circulating around Denver metro region, and officials are advising recipients to be cautious.

In a July 3 letter obtained by The Colorado Independent that was sent through the U.S. Postal System, the “Immigration and Naturalization Detention Center” commands the recipient to “settle your status in this country” by calling a phone number within 60 days. If the number is not called, the letter states, “immigration may contact you personally without notification” and start deportation proceedings.

But there is no such place as the “Immigration and Naturalization Detention Center,” and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency — the real name for the nation’s immigration police — hasn’t gone by the title Immigration and Naturalization Service since 2003, shortly after the Department of Homeland Security was created.

The number provided in the letter connects to a real ICE detention center located in the Denver suburb of Aurora that is operated by the GEO Group, a private prison firm.

“From this letter alone, it’s difficult to determine what the motivation for drafting the letter might be,” says Carl Rusnok, a regional spokesman for ICE. “I have seen a couple of similar fake letters outside the Denver area. In those cases they directly solicited money from people.”

It is currently unknown how many recipients have been targeted by the mailings. But because it provides a government telephone number for immigration police, it’s possible that the sender or senders wanted to get people in Colorado without documentation to call law enforcement authorities.


“Anyone who receives such letters – especially those that solicit money — should scrutinize them for legitimacy, Rusnok says, noting that he has notified GEO Group employees about the mailing.


Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.