06/06/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Hard Is It to Get a Black Market Green Card in San Francisco?


As long as there is a demand to become a working American, there will be those who sell black-market green cards. Issued by the INS, green cards are essential documents needed to verify immigrants as resident aliens with the legal right to work in the United States. With an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants nationwide, a green card is gold for those questing the American Dream -- and often unobtainable.

Everyone is entitled to the American Dream. Some wait for years to win the green card lottery. (They make it sound like it's done with a scratch-and-win card). In order to reap the fruits of prosperity in this land of plenty, I shall try to get a green card by mid-afternoon -- no later. How hard can it be?

My quest for the American dream has taken me to the Mission District. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, there's a myriad of activity with its 99-cent stores, check-cashing places, and plentiful taquerias. I've recruited a Mexican friend of mine to help with the translation process, and to give validity to my story of being a Canadian with green card pursuits. A friend of hers just came over from Guadalajara and went right to the Mission to get a new fake green card in order to find temporary work on a fishing boat. He tipped her off that in front of photo and passport stores are the best places to begin the quest. The busy season is late spring and early fall due to the fact that a lot of immigrant work is in agriculture. San Francisco, like most major cities, has a steady demand, being that here the majority of work is mostly in restaurant jobs. Recently, a Las Vegas-based syndicate tried to muscle in on the San Francisco and New York markets, creating the same gang dynamics of the drug trade, only with the fake-green-card industry.

Sauntering down Mission Street, a Latino guy wearing a down jacket and baseball cap stands in front of a clothing store two doors down from the passport-photo place, suspiciously hanging out with a very serious expression on his mug. We glance over, but he doesn't make eye contact. Not thinking much of it, my friend suddenly hears him say to a passing Latino man, "Micas? Micas?" (Street slang for "green card.")

Find out how the hurdles I faced in order to obtain a black market green card at SF Gate.