More Miami Immigration Fraud: INS Officer Involved
by Jose Latour
Guys, this one really made me sad, because it involved a Miami INS agent. It had been a long time since I'd seen direct accusations of an INS agent for scamming, and you know how vigorously I defend my friends at the agency. But news is news, so here goes.
According to a February 25 article in the Miami Herald, Jose Luis Cintron, a Miami INS Official, was rubber-stamping permanent residency approvals for false marriages while working with a paralegal matchmaker, sharing in the $5K to $10K fees being charged to those involved. Cintron, who reportedly earned $55K a year, would skip the normal anti-fraud interview and just issue a quick approval. INS agents recovered $100K in cash from his North Miami home when he was arrested late Friday night; after that, they seized another $100K in cash and checks - plus a $20K Rolex - from the home of the accused partner, Guillermo Rico. The North Miami Beach home also served as an office for Mr. Rico's business, exquisitely named, naturally:
" Justice Paralegal Service."
Here's how it allegedly worked: because Cubans are beneficiaries of the Cuban Adjustment Act, they automatically get green cards one year after arriving in the United States, assuming they don't commit any crimes or are otherwise not found ineligible. If that Cuban gets married to someone before filing for permanent residency, the spouse gets the residency too. Accordingly, Cintron and Rico (whose name, by the way, means "rich" in Spanish) would find a non-Cuban Hispanic to marry a Cuban who was close to getting his or her permanent residency via Cuban Adjustment. PRESTO! Two for one happy hour at Justice Paralegal Service, where everybody wins!
Well, not Mr. Cintron and Mr. Rico, who is suddenly Mr. "Pobre" (that's Spanish for "poor," in case you didn't figure that out). According to INS Section Chief John Woods, Mr. Cintron has been involved in at least 500 cases since he began reviewing residency applications in 1999. Before that, he had worked at Miami International Airport as an inspector since 1991. Says Woods:
"We're looking at everything he touched."
Oh-oh, what do you think, guys? Does this sound like another one of those situations where the "poor victims" might just be likely to get something they deserve?
So how did they find out about this incredible scheme? Last summer, according to The Herald, investigators used a confidential Miami-Dade police informant who approached Rico about setting up a sham marriage and obtaining the legal residency through Cintron. Rico, like the creative attorney I told you about whose office was right near our old office, took care of the fabrication of fake papers including utility bills, lease arrangements, etc. Cintron got $3K, the spouse got $3K, and $4K went to Mr. Rico. For $10K, permanent residency in the United States. According to the complaint, two other "cooperating" sources cut similar deals with Mr. Rico.
I'll say it one more time, guys: good immigration attorneys can pretty much always find ways to do things legally, and I bet you that almost all of these folks could have found a willing employer to do a skilled worker EB-3 labor certification for them. For $5K, Kim and Lorenzo could process that labor certification, and they would continue their invisible existence in Miami as illegal aliens until 245(i) happened, as their cases slowly cooked on the back burner. And odds are excellent that some incarnation of a 245(i) extension will happen, allowing a remedy for their overstay.
In other words, most of these folks, had they found their way to us, would've had a real chance at LEGAL permanent residency and would have been very happy to convey such benefits upon their family members. Now, not only are they going to lose their green cards once Assistant U.S. Attorney Marvelle McIntyre-Hull finishes the review of every single residency application ever approved by Cintron, but there will be a finding in the record of each individual involved which will preclude them from ever being able to get residency in the United States, for the rest of their lives.
It's called fraud, and all it got them for their $10K was a dumb crook with a nice watch, the latter currently sitting in a federal evidence locker.
Jose Latour is the founding partner of Latour & Lleras, P.A., a Gainesville, Florida based business immigration practice representing corporations nationwide in visa management, compliance, and HR training. The above represents Mr. Latour's Editorial opinion. The A/V rated firm and its web site, www.usvisanews.com, were named a winner of the 2002 Inc. Magazine Web Award, receiving recognition along with 14 other companies as the best Web companies in America. In 1999, the firm was named "One of America’s Top Ten Internet/Virtual Companies" in the Inc. Magazine and Cisco Systems "Growing with Technology Awards." The site is one of the most visited and widely read resource on the Internet on U.S. immigration law, attracting subscribers from all over the world, the media and from within the U.S. government. Mr. Latour served as a U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Officer in Mexico and Africa before entering private practice and today divides his time between his law practice, writing, flying, and his music.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.