EL PASO, Texas – A Mexican national, who was living in New Mexico, remains in federal custody following his arrest March 27 by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Abraham Perez Mejia, 20, is charged with marriage fraud, that is, knowingly and unlawfully entering into marriage to illegally obtain immigration benefits by evading U.S. immigration laws.
Perez Mejia, who used a border crossing card to enter the country legally, was living in Carlsbad, N.M., where he met an 18-year-old woman who agreed to marry him in exchange for $4,000.
According to court documents, Perez Mejia told HSI special agents he asked a friend if she knew someone who would help him obtain his resident alien card. That friend introduced him to the 18-year-old woman to whom Perez Mejia paid $4,000 in installments.
Perez Mejia also said he lied during his interview with an immigration services officer who reviewed his residency application.
Dennis A. Ulrich, special agent in charge for HSI El Paso, said the HSI El Paso Public Safety Group investigates at least one marriage fraud case per month. He stressed the value of the partnership with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in investigating these cases.
"HSI moves aggressively against individuals who engage in immigration benefit fraud schemes," he said. "Such criminal activity undermines the integrity of our nation's legal immigration system, and represents a serious vulnerability for national security."
Perez Mejia's detention hearing is set for April 8 in federal court.