A man using a fake identification card was able to enter the Homeland Security Department headquarters in Washington, he said, even though the United States government considers the type of Mexican-issued card he used invalid.
Retired New York City policeman Bruce DeCell, who had arranged to meet with DHS officials last week to lobby for document security, told CNN he purposely used a forged version of identification that Mexican consulates in the United States issue to their nationals living here illegally.
Undocumented Mexicans can use the cards at banks and other institutions that accept them. The cards are not valid for entry into federal government buildings.
DeCell is a board member of a group called "9/11 Families for a Secure America," which he formed with others after losing his son-in-law in the 2001 terrorist attacks.
His group advocates stricter controls against illegal immigrants and wants to ban use of the "matricula consular" cards.
"The card is an unsecure document that could facilitate terrorist money and travel," he said.
DeCell said a friend in California bought him the fake Mexican card for $20.
"I sent him a passport-size photo and the spelling of my name, and he had the card made for me on the street," he said.
Days before his meeting with DHS officials, DeCell was asked to furnish his name, Social Security number and birth date, so they could be compared by security personnel to a valid form of picture identification. The building security accepted his matricula card, even though it listed a false date of birth, he said.
He was allowed entry into the building after walking through a metal detector, according to a statement posted on his group's Web site.
"It's obscene in a post-9/11 world that they did not match my name against the fake [date of birth]," DeCell fumed. "They're spending a lot of money [on security] for nothing."
Jarrod Agen, a Homeland Security spokesman, told CNN, "In response to this incident, we are following up on the allegations, and we seek to ensure that an incident like this does not occur again.
"At no time was there a threat to the DHS building or its personnel," he said.
DeCell said he has used the card for years in airports and other sensitive locations, but was still astonished that he was able to use it to enter the headquarters of Homeland Security, the federal agency charged with determining secure IDs.