BEAUMONT, Texas — Eighteen illegal aliens were arrested last week for using false identities to gain employment, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales, Eastern District of Texas.
This investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) offices in the following Texas cities: Beaumont, Houston and Galveston. The following agencies also participated in this investigation: U.S. Marshals Service, Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the Texas police departments of Beaumont and Port Arthur.
On April 7 and 8, a combined task force of federal, state and local law enforcement arrested 18 illegal aliens working under false identities at various oil refineries, industrial plants and shipyards in the Texas counties of Jefferson, Galveston and Liberty.
A federal grand jury returned 18 indictments April 2 charging each individual with either illegal re-entry after deportation, identity theft, and/or making false claims of U.S. citizenship to obtain jobs at numerous oil refineries, industrial plants and shipyards within the past six years.
The 18 defendants, who are in the United States illegally, were all allegedly working under assumed names obtained by possessing fraudulently obtained but legitimate social security numbers and matching birth certificates, primarily issued in Puerto Rico. Using these documents and primary identifying information, the defendants obtained state-issued identification cards from Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and other states.
Using these fraudulently obtained documents allowed these illegal aliens to pass the E-verify systems used by their employers to ascertain U.S. citizenship or lawful alien work permits. These documents also allowed some individuals to obtain Transportation Worker Identification Credentials permitting them access to ports and other sensitive work sites. HSI determined the actual identities of several of the aliens because they had been previously deported. One of the aliens arrested during this operation was previously deported after a felony drug conviction. Fifteen other aliens were identified after being arrested under their assumed names.
If convicted of the charges, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison and deportation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Rawls, Eastern District of Texas, is prosecuting these cases.
An indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.