A detective for the Arizona state police resigned this week after it was revealed she isn't a U.S. citizen and had — perhaps unknowingly — misrepresented where she was born on application documents, officials said Wednesday.
Former detective Carmen Figueroa — who worked 13 years for the Arizona Department of Public Safety and once served as the state police force’s spokeswoman — had stated in a required written affidavit when hired that she is a U.S. citizen. She later told investigators her family told her she was born in the Unites States.
Instead, it turned out that she was born in Sinaloa, Mexico, and came to the U.S. as a young child and was living in the country illegally, NBC station KVOA in Tucson, the first to make the revelation, reported.
Figueroa may have used a fake or forged birth certificate, the station reported, but officials said that she was likely told that she was born in this country by her mother.
"We believe the affidavit and information she gave us at the time. And, she was under the impression that she herself was an American citizen," Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves told KVOA.
Figueroa resigned on Monday but would have been fired if she hadn’t stepped down, Graves told The Associated Press. Arizona law requires all sworn officers to be U.S. citizens.
"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 AP.
Figueroa’s citizenship status came to light when her brother, a member of the U.S. military, applied with the State Department for a passport and federal authorities learned he had a sister who was an Arizona state police officer.
Figueroa spent about a decade as a highway patrol officer in southern Arizona before become a detective and "had an exemplary record" on the job, Graves said.
It was unclear if any criminal charges would be levied against Figueroa. She could not be reached.