U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in tandem with Houston’s counterpart agencies, have put at least fifty people in jail after a federal grand jury returned a massive marriage fraud indictment against 96 individuals in the Texas city. The indictment came down at the end of April, and it concludes a broad investigation on the part of the Homeland Security departments aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration and the schemes people use to stay in the country without legal status.
“These arrests mark the culmination of a comprehensive yearlong multi-agency investigation into one of the largest alleged marriage fraud conspiracies ever documented in the Houston area,” said Special Agent Mark Dawson. “By working together with our partners from various federal law enforcement agencies, we have sent a resounding message that we are united in our effort to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that seek to circumvent U.S. law by fraudulent means.”
One of the key individual indicted was Ashley Yen Nguyen. According to federal authorities, Nguyen ran a criminal organization whose purpose was to create sham marriages with fraudulent paperwork in an attempt to get illegal immigrants legal status in the United States.
In a statement, Houston USCIS Director Tony Bryson said marriage fraud was a “serious crime” that would be prosecuted as such.
“This indictment reveals how successful our working relationships are with our law enforcement and intelligence partners when it comes to investigating marriage fraud,” Bryson said. “USCIS remains steadfast in our commitment to ensuring national security, public safety and the integrity of the immigration system.”
From the official ICE release:
Individuals enter into sham marriages primarily to circumvent U.S. immigration laws. The indictment alleges the marriages involved in this conspiracy were shams because the spouses did not live together and did not intend to do so, contrary to the official documents and statements they submitted to USCIS. The spouses only met briefly, usually immediately before they obtained their marriage license, or not at all.
According to the criminal charges, each beneficiary spouse entered into an agreement with Nguyen in which they paid about $50,000 to $70,000 to obtain full U.S. permanent resident status. The agreements were allegedly prorated in that they would pay an additional amount for each immigration benefit they received, such as admission into the United States, conditional U.S. permanent resident status and full U.S. permanent resident status.
This bust is one of many indications that illegal immigration is a many-faceted crisis that will take vigilance on all fronts. We need firm, physical border protection, we need new laws that crack down on asylum fraud, we need to put an end to ridiculous schemes like the Diversity Visa Lottery, and much more. What we don’t need – obstructionist leftists who think illegal immigration is a “blessing” to America.