CONCORD, N.H. — A Manchester, N.H., woman was convicted today by a federal jury of two counts of procuring citizenship unlawfully. The guilty plea is the result of an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
A federal jury in New Hampshire found that Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43, obtained her U.S. citizenship unlawfully after fleeing her home country of Rwanda by misrepresenting material facts to U.S. immigration authorities both before and after she arrived in the United States. Munyenyezi, who was charged in June 2010, faces up to 10 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each count.
Munyenyezi's U.S. citizenship was revoked immediately upon conviction. She also faces removal proceedings after serving the sentence imposed by the judge. Sentencing has been scheduled for June 3, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Steven J. McAuliffe, who presided over the trial.
Testimony during the 12-day trial revealed that Munyenyezi concealed her involvement in the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), the political party in power before and during the Rwandan genocide. Munyenyezi misrepresented this fact in order to obtain immigration and naturalization benefits.
"The United States has always welcomed refugees and those fleeing oppression, but as today's guilty verdict clearly demonstrates, this nation will never be a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. "After much persistence and dedication by HSI special agents and our partners at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts, Munyenyezi will be held accountable for disguising her role as a participant in the Rwandan genocide. I am hopeful that this case will send a message to others like Munyenyezi: HSI will never allow our country to be a place where individuals seeking to distance themselves from their pasts can hide or evade detection."
"United States citizenship is one of our nation's most valued privileges," said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, District of Massachusetts. "Those involved in human rights violations should be aware that the United States will not idly tolerate the abuse of its accepting borders and will diligently investigate those who obtain citizenship fraudulently, even decades after the events."
HSI is committed to rooting out alleged human rights violators who seek a safe haven in the United States. The Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center investigates human rights violators who try to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States, including those who have participated in war crimes and acts of genocide, torture and extrajudicial killings. These individuals may use fraudulent identities to enter the country and attempt to blend into communities in the United States. Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the toll-free HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or to complete its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact HSI's confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973. Tips may be provided anonymously.
Since fiscal year 2004, HSI has arrested more than 250 individuals for human rights-related violations under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, the agency obtained deportation orders and physically removed more than 590 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Currently, HSI has more than 140 active investigations and is pursuing more than 1,900 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from nearly 96 different countries.
The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, provided HSI with assistance during the investigation.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aloke S. Chakravarty and John Capin, District of Massachusetts.