It was love that got Jackeline Galeano Yaima in trouble.
The 34-year-old Colombian is now awaiting possible deportation after being arrested at Miami International Airport (MIA) Nov. 23 for trying to enter the country carrying fake U.S. immigration papers.
She told passport control officials that a man in New York who had fallen in love with her gave her the false documents.
No matter, Galeano was still charged with the offense, denied entry into the United States and taken to federal court in Miami.
Galeano has since pleaded guilty to the charges. A federal judged has sentenced her to time served and ordered her surrender to immigration authorities for deportation proceedings.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of foreign nationals who arrive at MIA and other international airports in the country are routinely arrested on criminal charges after they are found carrying false immigration documents or because they have previously overstayed their visas or been deported.
Foreign nationals who previously overstayed their visas are among the most frequently detained travelers. Visa overstays have figured prominently in the Republican presidential debates and recently were the focus of a testy congressional hearing in Washington D.C. where a senior Homeland Security official, Alan Bersin, was grilled by Rep. Mark meadows, R-N.C.
Meadows wanted to know how many foreign travelers overstay their visas annually. Bersin said he could not provide a specific number of overstays because U.S. officials do not have a reliable system to track all foreigners.
A July 2013 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicated that more than one million foreign visitors may have overstayed their visas as of June 2013.
The case began when Galeano arrived at MIA aboard American Airlines flight 1128 from Medellín, Colombia, according to court records.
At MIA passport control, Galeano presented her Colombian passport and a U.S. visa. Everything seemed to be in order and she was admitted, according to court records.
Yet something was not quite right.
MIA officers for some reason decided to thoroughly check her luggage and found a counterfeit Social Security card and a green card whose number had been assigned to another person, according to a criminal complaint filed in Miami federal court by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforcement officer.
Though Galeano did not use the fake documents to enter the country, the complaint suggested MIA officials may have suspected that she intended to use the papers to stay in the country.
“During a secondary interview, the defendant admitted that she knew that the documents were not issued by the proper government authority,” the criminal complaint said.
When officers asked Galeano how she obtained those documents, she dropped the bombshell about a man who had fallen in love with her.
“She also told officers that she got them from a guy in New York who was in love with her,” the complaint said, without further elaboration.