Making Immigration Happen
Chicago Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens
A woman was arrested Wednesday, February 13, 2013, on charges she allegedly sold fraudulent identity documents to illegal aliens. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigra

Tag Archives: immigration lawyer

Fugitive Utah Attorney Indicted for Alien Smuggling and Visa Fraud is Captured

A Salt Lake City immigration attorney who fled following his 2009 indictment on alien smuggling and visa fraud charges is headed to back to Utah after being captured while attempting to re-enter the U.S. on Christmas Day, 2012, at the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego.

James Hector Alcala, 44, fled the U.S. in December 2010 and a federal arrest warrant was issued after he violated conditions of his pre-trial release. Alcala made his initial appearance in federal court in San Diego Dec. 26, 2012. Alcala waived his right to a preliminary hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 8, 2013, which now paves the way for his transfer to Utah in the coming weeks to face charges.

The case investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; and the U.S. Department of Labor uncovered an alien smuggling ring, of which investigators believe Alcala and his law firm participated.

Alcala, the Alcala Law Firm, Westside Property Management, and seven other individuals are charged with conspiracy to commit alien smuggling and visa fraud; encouraging and inducing illegal aliens to come to, enter, or remain in theUnited States; and visa fraud. According to the federal indictment unsealed in July 2009, the defendants conspired to profit financially by assisting Utah employers in obtaining H-2B visas for their foreign national workers by fraudulently representing to the federal government that the foreign nationals were eligible for visas when, in fact, they were not.

Carlos Manuel Vorher, 46, of Tooele; Andres Lorenzo Acosta Parra, 34, of Salt Lake City; and Westside Property Management have since pleaded guilty to charges stemming from their involvement in the case. Sentencing hearings are pending.

Charges against two individuals named in the indictment, Daniel Trigo Villavicencio, 34, of Oremand Gustavo Ballesteros-Munoz, 49, of West Jordan, have been dismissed by federal prosecutors. A fugitive warrant remains in place for Carlos Enrique Gomez-Alvarez, 44, of Salt Lake City, who fled the country in 2009 after his arrest and initial appearance on the charges in New York.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah.

M.C. Law Group Opens Office in Stamford, CT

M.C. Law Group has opened a new branch in Stamford, Connecticut. The full-service law firm is experienced in all areas of U.S. immigration and nationality law. In addition, the firm also handles cases in a wide variety of legal matters including family law and divorce cases, criminal matters, tax preparation and tax resolution, and business law cases.

 The Stamford branch, located at 39 Clovelly Road, is the third branch for this growing law firm. Two additional branches are located in Waterbury and Hartford, and the firm is based in Bridgeport.

 Follow the link below to learn more about the new branch, M.C. Law Group, and its legal services.

Stamford Immigration Lawyer in Connecticut

Connecticut Secure Communities Arrests Mexican National for Illegal Reentry

A Mexican national, who was encountered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Secure Communities program, was sentenced Thursday, September 6, 2012, to time served for illegally reentering theUnited Statesafter deportation. He pleaded guilty to the charge Aug. 20. This case was investigated by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Jose Angel Lopez-Garcia, 27, first entered the United States in April 1999 and voluntarily returned to Mexico. He reentered the country several times between 1999 and 2010. After illegally reentering in 2010, he was ordered deported by an immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and removed Sept. 24, 2010. On an unknown date after Sept. 24, 2010, Lopez-Garcia illegally reentered the United States once again. On June 10, 2012, Lopez-Garcia was arrested by the Stamford (Conn.) Police Department for various driving-related offenses.

Secure Communities

Secure Communities is a simple and common sense way to carry out ICE’s priorities. It uses an already-existing federal information-sharing partnership between ICE and the FBI that helps to identify illegal aliens without imposing new or additional requirements on state and local law enforcement. For decades, local jurisdictions have shared the fingerprints of individuals who are arrested or booked into custody with the FBI to see if they have a criminal record. Under Secure Communities, which is activated statewide in Connecticut, the FBI automatically sends the fingerprints to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to check against its immigration databases.

If these checks reveal that an individual is unlawfully present in the United States or otherwise removable, ICE takes enforcement action – prioritizing the removal of individuals who present the most significant threats to public safety as determined by the severity of their crime, their criminal history, and other factors – as well as those who have repeatedly violated immigration laws. Lopez-Garcia is a priority for ICE since he is an egregious immigration law violator that has been previously removed from the United States on 10 separate occasions. He is also now a convicted criminal alien, another priority for ICE.

Because Lopez-Garcia had been previously encountered and fingerprinted by immigration officials, there is a digitized record. Once his fingerprints were run after his most recent arrest in Connecticut, Secure Communities registered a “match,” and ICE was notified that Lopez-Garcia was back in the country illegally. He had been detained by federal authorities since that arrest, and will now be deported back to Mexico by ICE, making this his 11th removal.

“As this case shows, there will be consequences for those who show no respect for our laws or our borders,” said Dorothy Herrera-Niles, field office director for ERO Boston. Herrera-Niles oversees ERO throughout New England. “By using tools like Secure Communities, ICE is locating and deporting more criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators than ever before, and our communities are safer as a result.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala, District of Connecticut.

Former CBP Agents Convicted for Extensive Alien Smuggling Ring

Two former San Diego-area U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol agents face up to 50 years in prison following their conviction Friday, August 10, 2012, for operating a lucrative human smuggling ring that brought hundreds of Mexicans and Brazilians illegally into the United States using official agency vehicles.

Raul Villarreal, 42, and his brother, Fidel Villarreal, 44, both of San Diego, and a co-defendant, Armando Garcia, 44, of Tijuana, Mexico, who acted as a foot guide for the ring, were found guilty by a jury on multiple felony counts of conspiracy to smuggle aliens, money laundering and receiving bribes. The defendants will be sentenced in November by U.S. District Court Judge John Houston. In addition to prison time, the defendants could be required to pay more than $1.25 million in fines.

A fourth co-defendant, Claudia Gonzalez, of Tijuana, pleaded guilty in December 2009 to conspiracy to smuggle aliens for financial gain, bribery and money laundering. Gonzalez is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

The verdicts of August 10, 2012, are the latest developments in a probe by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), aided by ICE Homeland Security Investigations, that began after the agency received a tip in 2005 involving allegations of public corruption tied to an alien smuggling ring.

“Raul and Fidel Villarreal committed an egregious breach of the deep trust placed in DHS employees by the American people they swore to protect and serve,” said Joe Jeronimo, special agent in charge for OPR Western Region. “While their actions are atypical of the dedication and integrity demonstrated by the vast majority of DHS employees, this verdict should nonetheless send a message about the serious consequences facing those who would exploit their positions and violate the law. The ICE Office of Professional Responsibility and the DHS Office of Inspector General will continue to aggressively investigate such allegations and seek to prosecute perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”

All four defendants were arrested in Tijuana in October 2008 on arrest warrants obtained by ICE. The defendants were then extradited in March 2009 to the United States to face the federal charges.

According to court documents, ICE special agents conducted extensive surveillance of the defendants’ smuggling operations, using surveillance aircraft, GPS devices and video cameras mounted on poles along the California-Mexico border. The video showed Fidel Villarreal picking up groups of illegal aliens with his official Border Patrol vehicle and transporting them to designated staging locations to await their transportation into the interior.

USCIS Makes Forms Available for Deferred Action, Filing Starts Wednesday, August 15, 2012

During a Stakeholder Conference Call today, August 14, 2012, the USCIS announced final updates to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (‘DREAM Act’) filing process. Forms are now available for Deferred Action Requests, and the filing process will begin Wednesday, August 15, 2012.


Please note that although the forms and filing instructions are available today, August 14, 2012, requests will NOT be accepted before Wednesday, August 15, 2012. Any requests made BEFORE Wednesday, August 15, 2012, will be DENIED.


For updated information on the filing process and qualifications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — including information on what constitutes being “currently in school,” and how previous false claims and/or juvenile delinquency affect a request — follow the link below to the official USCIS website for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. You may also download the form and form instructions through that link. In addition, you may call the USCIS’s toll-free hotline at (800) 375-5283 for any remaining questions you may have concerning the process.

USCIS Posts NEW Updates to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Filing Process

            During a Stakeholder’s conference call today, August 3, 2012, the USCIS announced a link to a new, updated website regarding Requests for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The updated website has extensive information on the filing process including:

  •  Fees and fee exemptions
  • Filing dates
  • Forms
  • Evidence requirements

                       Follow the link below to read this newly released information:


Two Convicted Fugitives Sought for Extensive Alien Trafficking

Following a two-week trial, two southern Arizona men were convicted by a federal jury Monday, July 23, 2012, for conspiring to bring, transport and harbor illegal aliens, the latest convictions stemming from a large scale investigation targeting Arizona human smuggling networks known as “Operation In Plain Sight,” which was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Eusebio Arce-Padilla, 57, of Rio Rico, and Miguel Torres-Organiz, 62, of Tucson, were convicted in absentia after both absconded during the trial. The court has issued arrest warrants for the pair, who are scheduled to be sentenced Oct.1 by U.S. District Judge Cindy K. Jorgenson.

The jury failed to reach a verdict on co-defendant Miguel Toralba-Mendia, 50, of Tucson. The court declared a mistrial in his case and has not yet set a new date for his retrial.

“This investigation and prosecution brought down a sophisticated human smuggling operation that was responsible for bringing thousands of illegal aliens into the country and funneling them through Tucson and Phoenix to destinations throughout the United States,” said U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo. “I commend our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, as well as our prosecution team, for their tremendous efforts in securing these convictions.”

“These convictions represent a significant victory in law enforcement’s efforts to dismantle illicit transnational human smuggling networks and the infrastructures that support them,” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. “HSI’s ‘Operation In Plain Sight’ investigation was successful in large part because of the tireless dedication of our special agents as well as extensive cooperation from our federal, state and local partners and Mexican federal police. Our collective efforts have resulted in the conviction or guilty pleas of more than 70 defendants, including the head of the alien smuggling organization itself.”

Trial evidence showed that Arce-Padilla, also known as “Chevo,” led a Nogales-based alien smuggling organization that moved thousands of illegal aliens into the U.S. for more than five years. The organization guided aliens around the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 19 south of Green Valley and then transported the aliens in private vehicles to various commercial shuttle businesses in Tucson. There, the aliens boarded marked shuttle vans to be taken to parking lots in Phoenix. In Phoenix, the aliens were transferred to private vehicles and taken to drop houses where money was collected from sponsors before the aliens were transported to other destinations in the United States. The organization collected fees ranging from $1,700 to $2,000 per person for the trip from Nogales, Mexico, to Phoenix.

This was the second trial related to “Operation In Plain Sight,” a major investigation implicating the owners and employees of five Arizona commercial shuttle services and resulting in indictments against 74 individuals in April 2010. In the first trial, which took place from Jan. 24 through Feb. 1, a jury returned guilty verdicts against Ruperto Guillen-Cervantes, 55, and Betty Castillo, 39, both ofTucson. Guillen-Cervantes and Castillo were both sentenced to 37 months in federal prison. All but one of the remaining defendants in the case entered guilty pleas. Charges against one defendant were dismissed on government motion.

A conviction for conspiracy to bring, transport and harbor illegal aliens carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Jorgenson will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

The bi-national investigation in this case was conducted by HSI, with support from numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and included cooperation from Mexico’s Secretaria Securidad Publica (SSP).

The case was prosecuted by Joseph E. Koehler, Jeffrey D. Martino, Brian G. Sardelli, Munish Sharda and Lisa Settel, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona.