Fifty individuals were arrested and named in 27 federal indictments because they entered into sham marriages to gain U.S. residency.
Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) started rounding up and arresting 50 people named in 27 federal indictments on August 11, 2009. All were part of a scheme based in Cincinnati, Ohio, to arrange fraudulent marriages with the intent of evading U.S. immigration laws. The participants in the questionable activity included 23 foreign nationals and 27 U.S. citizens who they had married under false pretenses, although all fifty were known to be in cooperation with each other.
Thirty-three individuals were immediately taken into federal custody.
A federal grand jury had returned the indictments on August 5. Marriage fraud is a crime involving falsely written statements or false representations that is increasingly involved with immigration paperwork and has been diligently prosecuted under the Bush and Obama Administrations. Each of the crimes is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Those individuals who are in the United States without lawful status face deportation.
According to ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton, “Marriage fraud poses a major vulnerability that must not go unchallenged. The significant number of indictments handed down today as a result of Operation Honeymoon’s Over should send the unambiguous message that ICE will not tolerate the exploitation of our country’s immigration system. Whether you are marrying one person under false pretenses or various people, or facilitating the fraud, know this – you will be found, arrested, and held accountable for your actions.”
The U.S. investigation unraveled a scheme intended to arrange marriages between Eastern European aliens and U.S. citizens. Fees were paid by the Eastern Europeans to U.S. citizens and to conspiracy organizers to arrange the marriages. Those perpetrating the fraud created false documents indicating that the marriages were legal, documents that were then presented to U.S. immigration officials.
Operation Honeymoon’s Over was part of an investigation which had been ongoing since early 2008.
In 2008, ICE made 238 criminal arrests related to marriage fraud schemes and obtained 198 convictions.
Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney visit Rabinowitzrabinowitz.com