On February 14th, 2018, CBS Los Angeles reported that a high ranking ICE attorney admitted to stealing the identities of immigrants in a concerted effort to fraudulently obtain money and property for himself. According to a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Raphael A. Sanchez, the former ICE Chief Counsel for the Seattle regional office, has pled guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. At the current time, he is scheduled to be sentenced on May 11th, 2018.
Seattle ICE Lawyer Stole Identity of at Least Seven Immigrants
The DOJ reports that Mr. Sanchez has admitted that he intentionally devised schemes to steal the identity of seven immigrants. These criminal acts occurred between October of 2013 and October of 2017. Disturbingly, during this time, Mr. Sanchez was the lead legal official in charge of removal proceedings in four U.S states, including Washington and Oregon. While he was trusted to ensure that people’s rights were being protected, he was using agency property to access sensitive information to carry out fraud.
Prosecutors contend that Mr. Sanchez used official computer records held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to obtain the sensitive personal information of immigrants. With this ill-gotten information, he fraudulently took out loans and credit cards in the names of these immigrants. In carrying out the identity theft scheme, Mr. Sanchez went so far as to list his own home address on the fraudulent loan application and credit card application files. He then created fake utility accounts in the names of the victimized immigrants in order to get access to the utility account statements he needed to perpetuate the fraud. In all, former ICE lawyer Raphael A. Sanchez admitted that he stole more than $190,000 using the identities of the victimized immigrants.
Can ICE Be Trusted to Protect the Rights of Immigrants?
This case is another recent example of ICE and its representatives abusing immigrants and their communities. To be sure, there have been several incidents where ICE and ICE officials have abused their authority in the last several years. Some examples include the unacceptable conditions in immigration detention centers and ICE mistakenly targeting Hispanic U.S. citizens for deportation. The agency has to do better. Just as important, our political leaders need to take action to protect immigrants.
We Support Immigrant Rights
At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our law firm is committed to supporting immigrant rights in L.A. If you or a loved one is in need of immigration law assistance, our compassionate Los Angeles immigration lawyers are here to help. For a confidential legal consultation, please call us now at (213) 262-2000 or contact us through our website. With an office in the heart of Los Angeles, we serve clients throughout Southern California.