Immigration fraud can be investigated under a wide range of scenarios. Some are purposeful schemes where documents are fabricated in order to steal someone else’s identity or to represent a fictitious identity. In other cases, immigration fraud can simply be a misunderstanding in what is being represented to immigration officials in the form of applications for admission to the United States.
Although there are big differences between purposeful or mistaken conduct, federal law enforcement will not hesitate to bring immigration fraud criminal charges should they believe that the conduct alleged fits into the federal statute that defines the behavior as a crime.
Who Can Face Immigration Fraud?
The federal criminal code is full of laws that pertain to the facilitation of illegal immigration. Although many of the crimes defined in the code pertain to the immigrant’s behavior, there is also a wide range of crimes that can be prosecuted against U.S. citizens who facilitate the entry of illegal aliens. A couple of the most common offenses that are prosecuted as immigration fraud are:
Unlawful Employment Of Aliens
Federal officials can prosecute citizens for knowingly employing unlawful aliens if it is shown that they did not comply with federal law to ascertain an individual’s legal status prior to commencing employment. The law does provide some protections for employers who rely on representations from the individual in good faith when hiring.
If found to have violated the law, employers can be subject to significant financial penalties that increase for each illegal alien they have employed. Employers are entitled to a hearing to contest the charge in front of an administrative law judge if they request one promptly after being notified of the alleged violation.
Unlawful Bringing Of Aliens Into United States
The press often covers the mass importation of illegal aliens by “coyotes”, individuals who make a living off the illegal importation of migrants. However, there are also less severe instances where U.S. citizens either knowingly or accidentally attempt to assist a family or individual and, in the midst of their sympathy, get caught up in a federal investigation for unlawfully transporting illegal aliens across the border.
In such cases, it can be argued that the individual transporting the immigrant(s) could not have reasonably known the immigrant’s status when they undertook the transportation. If argued successfully, this could result in an effective defense to the charge being presented that can absolve the suspect from any liability.
Importation Of Alien For Immoral Purpose
An investigation that stems from the illegal importation of an alien can significantly be enhanced if federal authorities believe that the aliens have been imported for an immoral purpose such as prostitution.
A substantial amount of the evidence that is used to bring such charges can be based on the testimony of the immigrant themselves. Although this testimony may not absolve the immigrant from deportation, it may assist them in remaining in the country while the case winds through the criminal justice process. This type of motivation can be used in the defense of the citizen who is alleged to have committed the offense.
False Impersonation Of U.S. Citizen
It is a felony to falsely represent that you are a U.S. citizen. This fraud can be in the form of presenting forged documents such as a passport or driver’s license to federal authorities or to a prospective employee. It can also be proven through the presentation of applications that are signed under oath representing that the individual is a U.S. citizen.
The maximum penalties for a violation of this statute carry upwards of three years in prison. If convicted, not only will the suspect face a significant period of incarceration, but they will likely be subject to deportation proceedings if they are in the U.S. illegally or on a limited visa status.
U.S. Citizen Or Not Vinas & Graham Has You Covered
The above violations of federal immigration law are, but a snapshot of the wide range of laws federal authorities have at their disposal to bring federal immigration fraud charges against immigrants and U.S. citizens. Although the prospect of facing the U.S. government is daunting, it can be less so if you have the right legal team in your corner. The attorneys at Vinas & Graham have been defending individuals against a wide range of federal crimes for over 30 years. Let their experience work for you in ensuring that you are protected from the long reach of the law when you need it most.