Articles Posted in ICE

With the commencement of the 112th Congress on January 5, 2011, Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA) was appointed to lead the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

Rep. Gallegly is best know for his restrictive immigration policies and push in creating the E-Verify program. He believes the solution to illegal immigration is straightforward: enforce current laws, eliminate incentives for individuals to illegally immigrate, and take away benefits we provide that make it easier for illegal immigrants to stay in the US. Since becoming a representative, Gallegly has chaired the Congressional Task Force on Immigration Reform which provided the fundamentals for IIRIRA in 1996 and he supported an amendment to IIRIRA that would have prohibited illegal immigrants from attending public school. Additionally, in 2006 he was named by Human Events Magazine as of the Top Ten Illegal Immigration Hawks in Congress and inducted in the US Border Control Hall of Fame.

Already since the start of the 112th Congress, Gallegly has proposed legislation to require the creation of electronic Social Security cards as well as an employment eligibility database. It’s likely we could see legislation from him being proposed on topics such as ending birthright citizenship, requiring the use of E-Verify, making English the official US language, and requiring proof of citizenship to receive benefits in the near future.

Following an investigation by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Florida Highway Patrol and the Social Security Administration, Ronald Smith was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison on January 5, 2011.

Smith, a citizen of Jamaica had been deported from the U.S. in 2003 after being found guilty of several crimes including intent to distribute cocaine and illegal possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. After being deported, the investigation revealed Smith returned to the U.S. illegally and fraudulently used a U.S. citizen’s identity to obtain a driver’s license, job and health care. Smith was convicted of impersonating a U.S. citizen, falsely representing a social security number, aggravated identity theft, and illegal re-entry after deportation. After he serves his 54 month sentence in federal prison, Smith will be removed from the United States.

MVP “Q & A Forum” – This Friday, January 7th, 2011

We wanted to find a new way to engage our reader base. Every other Friday, we will post the ten (10) best/most frequently asked questions received during the week from our h1bvisalawyerblog, Facebook, and Twitter readers. We will answer those questions and provide the Q&A on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

If you have a burning question, are seeking assistance with a difficult immigration related case, wish to discuss your views on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, AZ SB1070, priority dates, or the debate focused on Ending Birthright Citizenship, please contact us by submitting your question/comment/viewpoint in our comment box provided on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

Hua Huang, manager of China Buffet/Mongolian Grill in Missouri plead guilty to harboring, transporting, and hiring illegal aliens in addition to conspiracy to commit visa fraud on December 10.

It was discovered during the investigation that between January 2009 and August 2010, Huang regularly employed illegal workers from Mexico and China. During that time Huang obtained fake identification for the illegal workers and tried to arrange marriages for them in order to secure visas. Huang’s sentencing is set for March 2011.

On December 10, two local El Paso businesses signed up to become IMAGE (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers) partners. The IMAGE program was started in 2006 by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to minimize the number of unauthorized workers being hired, reduce fraud, and create a more secure workplace. To qualify as an IMAGE partner, a business must first meet certain criteria such as: assessing their hiring practices to uncover weaknesses that could potentially be exploited, enrolling in employment eligibility verification programs, training employees on how to use the new IMAGE screening tools and practices, as well as undergoing a Form I-9 audit by ICE.

After being audited last year, Tony Marquez of Jobe Materials, LP became an advocate for the IMAGE program and says, “I feel that by being audited by ICE, and having my employees trained through the E-Verify online system to determine the authenticity of new employee documentation, I will be a more vigilant employer and a guardian of immigration laws.” For more information or to learn how to become an IMAGE partner, visit

Tara Ammons Cohen, a Washington state resident, is set to be deported back to Mexico due to an investigation into her citizenship. Cohen was adopted by US citizen parents when she was a baby and believes she is an American citizen. Legally, Cohen is not an American citizen because when she was adopted from Mexico at 4 months old; her adoptive parents never secured her citizenship. Cohen is very scared at the possibility of being deported to Mexico, as she doesn’t speak any Spanish and Mexico is a very unfamiliar place to her. Being deported would also mean that Cohen would leave her husband and three children behind in the US. The investigation into her citizenship began after she pleaded guilty and served time for drug trafficking. Cohen plans to keep fighting her deportation even it means going all the way to the Supreme Court.

A Corpus Christi business became a member of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers’ (IMAGE) program on December 10.

The IMAGE program was launched in 2006 and actively pursues partnering with businesses in hopes of minimizing the number of unauthorized workers being hired and reducing fraud. Undocumented workers that are hired create vulnerabilities in the system because they provide falsified documents and identities to gain benefits.

In order for a business to qualify as an IMAGE partner they must first meet a few requirements such as: assessing their hiring practices to uncover weaknesses that could potentially be exploited, enrolling in employment eligibility verification programs, training employees on how to use the new IMAGE screening tools and practices, as well as undergoing a Form I-9 audit by ICE. Previously this year, 6 businesses in the Houston area signed up to become IMAGE partners. Once becoming an IMAGE partner, ICE provides free training to all employers on Form I-9 and how to detect fraudulent documents. Companies interested in the IMAGE program or those who would like more information visit

After an investigation by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security (HSI) Sophia Manuel and Alfonso Baldonado Jr. were sentenced in a forced labor conspiracy on December 10.

It was uncovered during the investigation that Manuel and Baldonado Jr., owners of Quality Staffing Services Corporation, were forcing 39 Filipino nationals to work in country clubs and hotels around Southeast Florida. The pair first made the Filipino nationals pay up-front recruitment fees, which they knew they didn’t have so the Filipino nationals were already in debt. Then, when they no longer wanted to work, Manuel and Baldonado threatened to arrest and deport them. The nonpayment of debts is very serious in the Philippines and the two knew they could use that against the workers to stay. Manuel was sentenced to 78 months in prison not only for her crimes against the Filipino nationals but she also admitted to making false statements on a form filed with the US Department of Labor. Baldonado was sentenced to 51 months in prison.

Following an extensive investigation led by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Social Security Administration (SSA) Marino and Nicole Sandoval, owners of El Balazo restaurants, were charged in a criminal information filed last month with a variety of tax and immigration violations.

The investigation revealed they were harboring illegal aliens for financial gain, had employed at least 10 unauthorized aliens at their restaurants, reported false Social Security numbers, evaded taxes, and filed inaccurate tax returns. The Sandoval’s were able to hide the fact they underrepresented the restaurants sales on their tax returns and illegally paid their unauthorized workers with payroll checks and cash. Marino Sandoval’s brother, Francisco also pleaded guilty to charges of harboring illegal aliens and failure to pay taxes. The Sandoval’s are set to appear in court on January 31, 2011, but until then they are out on a $100,000 bond.
During the 2010 fiscal year, criminal charges have been filed on 180 owners, employers, managers and/or supervisors following investigations conducted by ICE.

Heilber Toro Mejia, Humberto Toro Mejia, and Luz Elena Acuna Rios of Bogota were found guilty of conspiracy to smuggle aliens and conspiracy to commit visa fraud. They were sentenced to 23 months in prison following an investigation by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security (HSI) on December 7. After serving out their sentence, the three Colombians are also ordered to undergo three years of supervised release and are recommended for deportation.

The three were arrested in Bogota back in June 2009 and extradited to the US to await their trial. The scheme involved helping other Colombian nationals receive fraudulent visas from the US Embassy in Bogota by creating false identities and submitting forged documents to the officials on behalf of the aliens. Additionally, they trained the aliens on how to successfully pass a visa application interview. The defendants admitted to helping over 100 aliens obtain or attempt to obtain visas to enter the US illegally. In connection to their sentencing, the defendants were also forced to forfeit their office in Bogota and $234,533.00

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