Federal officials seem to be taking President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration as seriously as he is.
As U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was worn into his new post Thursday, U.S. District Court Magistrate Eric Long was arraigning an illegal immigrant in Urbana, Illinois for several counts of voter fraud, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The 33-year-old Mexican national, Miguel Valencia-Sandoval, allegedly used a fake identity for years to vote in the 2012, 2014, and 2016 elections, and to open bank accounts, take out car loans, and open restaurants.
The scheme seemed to be working well until a trip to Mexico last month, when Valencia-Sandoval was detained as he attempted to cross back into the U.S. with a Texas birth certificate and Illinois ID card with the name Ramiro Guerrora Vaszuez.
According to the News-Gazette:
During an interview with agents on Jan. 7, Valencia-Sandoval admitted, according to a federal affidavit, that he was not the true owner of the birth certificate and that in March 2005 he had purchased it from Oscar Guerrero-Vasquez — Ramiro Guerrero-Vasquez’s brother — for $50,000.
Valencia-Sandoval, who lives in the 0-to-100 block of Ivanhoe Drive, U, also admitted that he did not have Ramiro Guerrero-Vasquez’s permission to use his identity; had used the identity to live in Illinois since March 2005; had obtained driver’s licenses, bank accounts and loans for vehicles; had opened two restaurants that have since been sold; and had obtained a lawful permanent resident card for his wife.
Valencia-Sandoval, who has four children born in the United States, allegedly admitted that he’s an illegal immigrant from Mexico and police traced his fingerprints to two other previous encounters with law enforcement, though court records did not details the reasons for his arrests.
A grand jury indicted Valencia-Sandoval on a slew of federal charges this week.
“The indictment charges Valencia-Sandoval with making a false statement of U.S. citizenship in April 2012, on a passport application, in that he allegedly used another’s identity and stated he was a U.S. citizen when he was not. In addition, he is charged with aggravated identity theft related to the April 2012 passport application,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“The indictment also charges Valencia-Sandoval with allegedly making a false claim of citizenship to vote in November 2016; aggravated identity theft, and three misdemeanor counts of voting in an election by an illegal alien, in November 2016, November 2014, and November 2012.”
It came on the same day America’s new Attorney General Jeff Sessions was sworn into office and promised a “lawful system of immigration, one that serves the interest of the people of the United States.”
“That’s not wrong, that’s not immoral, that’s not indecent,” he said. “We need to end this lawlessness that threatens the public safety and pulls down wages of working Americans.”
That work is apparently already in high gear, as others across the country faced similar charges as Valencia-Sandoval this week.
Also on Thursday in a separate indictment, Salvador Garcia-Luna, a 27-year-old in Champaign, Illinois, was indicted by a grand jury for aggravated identity theft, lying on a passport application and possessing a firearm as an illegal alien, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement.
Garcia-Luna and Valencia-Sandoval both face up to 10 years in prison for making a false statement on a passport application and a minimum of two years on top of any other sentence for aggravated identity theft.
Meanwhile, in Texas, a Tarrant County jury sentenced an illegal immigrant woman to eight years in prison for voter fraud, CBS DFW reports.
Rosa Ortega claimed she was a U.S. citizen on her voter application, and her attorney argued she was confused about the difference between a legal resident and citizen.
“The jury didn’t believe that story,” prosecutor Jonathan White said. “They believed that the defendant knew exactly what she was doing, and they responded accordingly.”
Ortega’s attorney, Clark Bidsall, told the news site the mother of four’s decision to break the law will continue to haunt her after she released from prison and deported.
“Once she gets out of prison and she’s deported, does she bring her four minor children to Mexico? As a mother I think that would be a difficult choice for her,” he said.
Rosa Ortega’s uncle Filipe Ortega said his niece’s sentence, which included a $5,000 fine, is “not fair.”
“What’s going to happen to the kids? So it’s not fair,” he said. “It’s going to be a big impact for them because now they’re going to have to go (to Mexico) to visit their momma.”