This week, authorities from the United States Attorney's Office in Boston, Massachusetts, announced charges against 11 individuals that they claimed controlled an organization which helped American citizens marry illegal aliens for the sole purpose of obtaining a green card to remain permanently inside America. They would then eventually apply for American citizenship. The process began in October 2016 and continues in March 2022.
In the case, Filipino National Marcialito Benitez was the chief of the agency linking illegal aliens seeking green cards to American citizen who paid for marriage to their clients. Then Benitez would send fraudulent immigration documents to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which substantiated the fake marriages to get a green card for the illegal immigrant.
Clients were paid between $20,000 and $30, 000 by Benitez for the services, according to the indictment.
Benitez's work included arranging sham wedding ceremonies, as well as instructing illegal immigrants and American residents on what to do if they were questioned by USCIS officials regarding their wedding. In most cases, pictures of the ceremony were captured by the agency and then submitted to USCIS as proof of the weddings.
In the event that American citizens would opt out of the deal, Benitez and his staff would file fraudulent claims stating the American spouse had been abusive to the illegal alien to try to gain green cards as per the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
To accomplish this, Benitez would obtain a restraining order on the American spouse of an illegal client, and then present the order along with the Green Card applications before USCIS adjudicators.
48-year-old Filipino national Marcialito Biol Benitez, 48.
39 year-old Filipino citizen Engilbert Ulan
45-year-old Filipino national Nino Reyes Valmeo
30-year-old Filipino citizen Harold Poquita
45-year-old Filipino citizen Juanita Pacson
49-year-old Filipino national Felipe Capindo David
34-year-old Brazilian National Peterson Souza
26-year-old Devon Hammer
25-year-old Tamia Duckett
24-year-old Karina Santos
33-year-old Casey Loya
“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 declared.
“Their alleged fraudulent behavior makes things harder for the vast majority of immigrants who follow the law and respect our immigration system,” Rollins stated. “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.”
A conspiracy to commit a crime of marriage fraud is punishable by as many as five years in federal jail, 3 years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.