Seven foreign nationals and four American citizens have been charged with operating a massive marriage fraud agency in Los Angeles, California, that sought green cards for more than 400 illegal aliens, federal prosecutors allege.
Last week, the United States Attorney’s Office in Boston, Massachusetts, announced charges against eleven individuals who they allege ran an agency that paid American citizens to marry their illegal alien clients for the sole purpose of securing a green card to permanently remain in the U.S. and eventually apply for naturalized American citizenship from October 2016 to March 2022.
According to the indictment, 48-year-old Filipino national Marcialito Biol Benitez operated the agency by linking illegal aliens wanting green cards up with American citizens who were paid to marry their illegal alien clients. From there, Benitez would submit fraudulent immigration documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that substantiated the sham marriages to secure a green card for the illegal alien.
Illegal alien clients paid Benitez anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 in cash for the service, the indictment alleges.
Benitez’s service included arranging sham wedding ceremonies and coaching illegal aliens and American citizens on what to say when they were checked on by USCIS officials about their marriage. In many cases, photos of the ceremonies were taken by the agency and submitted to USCIS as evidence of the marriages.
In cases where the American citizens would back out of the deals, Benitez and his staff would submit fraudulent claims that the American spouse abused the illegal alien client in an effort to win them green cards under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
To do this, Benitez would secure restraining orders against the American spouse on behalf of the illegal alien client and submit the orders with their green card applications to USCIS adjudicators.
Those indicted are:
“These defendants’ alleged exploitation of this system for profit is an affront to our nation’s tradition of welcoming immigrants and prospective citizens,” U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement.
“Their alleged fraudulent behavior makes things harder for the vast majority of immigrants who follow the law and respect our immigration system,” Rollins said. “Beyond that, by allegedly submitting false applications that claimed domestic abuse, these charged defendants did further harm, this time to real victims and survivors of domestic violence.”
Conspiracy to commit marriage fraud carries a sentence of up to five years in federal prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter here.