Case To Follow: Salt Lake Law Firm’s Immigration Fraud

After looking through several reports, the Salt Lake Tribune seems to have the most detail on the case, thus far (assuming their information is accurate).  Some snippets from the report:

…Now federal authorities claim Alcala and seven of his employees lied on work visa applications in what is being called the largest fraud operation of its kind to be uncovered in Utah.

An indictment unsealed Tuesday accuses Alcala and seven others of helping 10 companies in Salt Lake, Davis and Utah counties get work visas for ineligible foreign workers.

Investigators believe The Alcala Law Firm filed more than 700 petitions that led to the issuance of more than 5,000 work visas, and that the majority of them were fraudulent. The scheme also “led to untold number of U.S. citizens and legal workers being refused jobs or discouraged from applying at all,” said Paul Maldonado, deputy special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigations over Utah.

The companies — which may not have known they were getting bad legal advice — included landscaping, construction, painting, roofing, steel and property-maintenance businesses…

…The alleged conspiracy involved the H-2B visa program, under which employers petition for permits that allow foreign nationals to work temporarily in the United States. Employers must demonstrate there are not enough U.S. citizens who are willing and qualified to fill vacant positions. There is a limit of 66,000 H-2B visas issued each year that allow unskilled nonagricultural laborers to stay a maximum of 10 months.

The story notes that US workers may have been denied jobs, but with a limited number of H-2B visas, it is also likely that legal immigrants were denied as well. Either way, legal workers were pushed aside for the illegal.

Some other things that will be interesting to find out will be which companies were invloved with the firm.  Given the reports I have read, sure they were given bad legal advice but it also appears there were a lot of red flags that the companies would have had to intentionally ignore.  It also appears that the companies were knowingly employing illegal immigrants (I wonder who’s identity they used for employment).  It will be interesting to see how many (if any) of the companies belong to various Chambers of Commerce which tend to be opposed to legislation that addresses illegal immigration and identity verification for employment.

An ABC 4 report also states:

The indictment also alleges that the defendants encouraged and induce illegal aliens to enter and stay in the country.

That makes me wonder if they will also face human trafficking charges.

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