I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do.....
A green card/marriage fraud ring was broken up yesterday in Dade County. Thirty people were arrested for their part in a scheme that saw people born overseas pay 3-5,000 to marry a US citizen in order to get a green card. One person involved in this got married fourteen times. Another accomplice was an employee at the Miami-Dade County's marriage license bureau. Don't you just love how your tax dollars are being spent.
One comment- I don't see these immigrants as victims. Rather as criminals trying to break our immigration laws. You're taking part in a fake marriage you're just another fraud not a victim.
Weekend Special/Open Trackback- Cafe Oregano, Wizbang, The Political Teen, My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and Point Five
The bride wore blue jeans and a black blouse; the groom, jeans and a sports shirt. Guests gathered around, toasting the newlyweds with raised plastic champagne glasses.
The video of the 2003 celebration at an Opa-locka home was taken as part of an undercover investigation dubbed Operation Honeymooners. The best man was a covert federal agent, secretly taping the wedding.
On Friday, U.S. authorities announced the indictments of 30 U.S. citizens in a South Florida marriage fraud ring as a result of Operation Honeymooners, an investigation lasting two years.
The crime: Arranging to have undocumented foreign nationals pay thousands of dollars to say ''I do'' to U.S. citizens in order to get green cards.
The agent's video, described to The Herald by a federal official who saw the tape, is now evidence in the ring's unraveling. In some cases, U.S. citizens married several foreign nationals at a time. One woman had 14 ''husbands,'' a federal official said.
Evan M. Grose, supervisory special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said more than 100 foreign nationals paid money to members of the ring, which included the U.S. citizens they married, brokers and notaries. ICE said it has identified about 102 fraudulent marriages. Foreign nationals paid as much as $5,000 per marriage.
Immigration officials require proof of legitimacy in a marriage to grant residence to a foreign spouse. With that, authorities first grant conditional residence to a spouse and, eventually, if no adverse information surfaces, permanent residence.
Officials said the conspiracy was one of the most elaborate they have seen in years of tracking fraudulent marriages between foreign nationals and U.S. citizens.
Operation Honeymooners produced the arrests of immigrants from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Israel, Germany, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The government says the immigrants were not indicted because they are viewed as victims.
They will likely face deportation, however.
Four of those indicted were individually charged with marriage fraud.
They were identified as David Collazo, Maria Magdalena Cruz, Rosemarie Alice Cruz and Aida Iris Pena. Authorities say Collazo has not yet been arrested.
John Paletti, acting special agent in charge of ICE in Miami, said the defendants face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
''It's much more common to see individual, singleissue fraud cases where someone does it as a favor to a friend or a relative's friend,'' said John Woods, assistant special agent in charge at the Miami office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
ICE worked in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami on the investigation.
Payments ranged from $3,000 to $5,000 per marriage and the money was split among ring members, Woods said.
Woods said the ring staged fake wedding receptions, like the one infiltrated by the covert agent, in an effort to demonstrate to immigration authorities that the marriage was real.
The wedding party recorded by the undercover agent was fake.
The groom brought a cake, but nobody ate it because it was hard and moldy, officials familiar with the event said. And when the couple were pronounced man and wife, the groom refused to kiss the bride. The champagne glasses were filled with soda.
Operation Honeymooners began when an astute U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employee in Miami discovered that a U.S. woman had filed petitions for several husbands over a period of about two years.