Monday, July 2, 2018

ICE Prosecutor Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

At least seven people were victims of a former ICE prosecutor that stole their identities to make payments and buy goods. Those affected faced deportation proceedings. The lawyer of a deported Mexican, who was being prosecuted by that ICE director, officer now calls for the case to be reopened.

Rafael and Joy Valdez and their daughter
in the corn fields in Mexico.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Raphael Sanchez, the highest-ranking lawyer in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Seattle, charged with reviewing deportation proceedings in Washington, Oregon and Alaska, was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing the identity of several undocumented people to obtain credit cards and loans. With that fraudulent scheme he obtained more than 190,000 dollars.

Now, the lawyer of one of the immigrants who Sanchez deported, hopes that his conviction will allow the case of his client, Rafael Valdez, who has lived in Zacatecas since 2013, to be reopened. His wife and two daughters, all Americans, had to move to Mexico to be with him.

The other attorney handling Valdez's case was also convicted. Two years ago, a federal judge sentenced Jonathan Love, Sanchez's former assistant in the ICE office in Seattle, to one month for forging a document in order to prevent the immigrant defendant from having relief from being deported. Love changed the date of the document from 2008 to 2000; so, that the defendant could not allege he had a defense to being deported, according to the federal complaint. A lawyer found the discrepancy and the client received a permanent resident card in 2014.

"Both Raphael Sánchez and Jonathan Love stole the identities of the undocumented, deported them and used those identities to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Paul Cook, legal counsel for Valdez, who asks that his client's case be reviewed again; so that Valdez can return to the USA.

"These two prosecutors deprived my Mexican client and others of a fair trial, because they had already decided in their minds that it was better to separate families through deportation than to look at each case fairly and objectively," Cook added.

According to Cook's account, Sanchez and Love wanted Valdez removed from his family in Washington and believes that Valdez was also a victim of the corrupt scheme in which both participated.

Valdez, convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, was expelled to Mexico in September 2013. Three years ago, his wife, Elizabeth, born in Washington, moved to Zacatecas with her two daughters, 5 and 10 years old, so that the family was united. She is an airline stewardess in the US and at the end of her working day she crosses the border to be with her husband and daughters.

"The U.S. Government should reopen up all of Sanchez's cases, in which Sanchez deported someone, and let each of those who have been deported to have a judge re-review each of their cases." Cook said. "Sanchez was all about deportation for cash," he added.

Meanwhile, his client hopes that the sentences against these former ICE officials will allow him to return to the country that was his home. "I deserve another chance," he said in an interview with Univision Noticias. His wife, Elizabeth, shares that wish: "I hope it's not too late for us and for others, for the cases to be fixed," she said.


Rapahel Sánchez, who had the authority to deport undocumented immigrants in three states on the United States' West Coast, took advantage of his position to obtain tens of thousands of dollars unduly. In February the former federal official pleaded guilty to using the identities of different immigrants to defraud credit card companies.

On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington state sentenced him to four years in federal prison and ordered Sanchez to return $ 190,000 in monetary damages.

"Corruption will not be tolerated," said ICE's chief legal advisor, Tracy Short. "Our employees are subject to the highest standards of professional conduct, and people who violate public trust will face consequences for their actions, as Sánchez did," the official added.

According to court documents, Sánchez, who was the head of the ICE Office of Legal Counsel in the states of Washington, Oregon and Alaska, devised a plan to defraud at least seven immigrants who were in different stages of deportation proceedings.

For this he used the personal information of his victims and thus obtained credit cards and loans. In addition, he used this data to apply for credit and to make payments on several items he bought on the internet, such as Amazon.

In all, this man made more than $ 190,000 fraudulently.

By: Univision's Isaias Alverado

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