Arizona Cop an Illegal Immigrant? 'Exemplary' Detective of 10 Years Forced to Resign

An Arizona state police detective was forced to resign after she discovered that she was an illegal immigrant.

The former detective, Carmen Figueroa, 42, allegedly was told by her mother that she was born in America, but in reality she was born in Sinaloa, Mexico and brought here as a young child, Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves, told NBC.

Figueroa's immigration status was uncovered when the State Department processed a passport application submitted by her brother, who is currently a member of the U.S. military, Graves said.

Law in Arizona states that all sworn police officers must be U.S. citizens and Figueroa would have been terminated if she had not resigned for fraud and misrepresentation over her stated qualifications.

Figueroa was with the department for 10 years, most of that time as a Highway Patrol officer. She became a criminal investigations detective in 2010, according to KVOA.

"She told us she was always under the impression through her mother that she was born in this country, and she did not really find out until this summer ... that she was an illegal alien through, I believe, a confrontation with her mother," Graves told The Associated Press.

He said the Department of Public Safety was informed of Figueroa's status Aug. 22, and she was placed on administrative leave with pay Sept. 4.

"It was pretty clear as it went up the chain (of command) that she would be terminated," Graves added.

Before becoming a police officer Figueroa was employed by the federal Bureau of Prisons as a secretary and for the court system as a secretary and an officer.

In order to become a part of the state police force Figueroa provided a birth certificate from Texas and a driver's license and high school diploma from California, Graves said. No red flags were raised over the documents, but there is no word on the legitimacy of those documents.

Graves added that the discovery has prompted "in-depth discussions right now to prevent this from happening again."

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