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Senators to China: Stop selling fake IDs

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A bipartisan quartet of senators has called on the Chinese government to crack down on companies in its country that produce counterfeit American driver’s licenses, saying the practice is a serious national security threat to the U.S.

In a Monday letter to Zhang Yesui, China’s ambassador to the U.S., the senators urged his government to “to take a strong stance and work to put an end to these companies.”

“We remain concerned that high-quality counterfeit identification documents will get into the hands of terrorists that can use them to circumvent our security infrastructure in their plot to harm our country,” the senators wrote. “These companies are profiting from the facilitation of crimes committed in the United States, and provide no legitimate service.”

The letter’s authors are the four senators from Illinois and Iowa; respectively, Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Richard J. Durbin, and Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Tom Harkin.

The companies contain templates for the driver’s licenses of more than 20 states — many of which will be the standard for years to come, the letter says. In 2010, U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport seized more than 1,700 counterfeit driver’s licenses.

The senators called out one company — ID Chief — as being one of the largest producers of counterfeit U.S. driver’s licenses.

The company’s website, http://www.idchief.ph, boasts in English that “students from across the world get ready for traveling and having fun in your favorite restaurants and bars with your new ID!”

Brian Zimmer, president of the nonpartisan Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, says the Chinese fake IDs industry in recent years has expanded exponentially and that its manufacturing techniques have become more sophisticated. He said that a terrorist who recently blew up a tourist bus in Bulgaria this summer used a fake Michigan driver’s license.

“The risks inherent in exporting thousands of fake driver’s licenses should be self-evident to Chinese security officials,” Mr. Zimmer said.

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