Brian Witte, AP, newsday.com (NY), Mar. 2
BALTIMORE — A Pakistani immigration lawyer and four Pakistani businessmen were indicted in federal court for conspiring to harbor more than 100 illegal aliens by submitting false records to federal agencies, authorities said Tuesday.
The attorney, Maqsood Mir, 51, was indicted on charges of racketeering and conspiring to submit false documents to the Labor Department and the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“We need to maintain the integrity of our immigration system, especially during these times when there’s a lot of focus on aliens entering the United States,” said Allan Doody, special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Baltimore.
Mohammad Bajwa, 38, of Herndon, Va., Abdul Jayaid, 68, of McLean, Va., Jamal Hussain, 45, of Kingston, New York, and Zulfiqar Ali, 43, of Virginia Beach, Va., also were indicted on the same charges as Mir, of Potomac, Md.
The men are charged with numerous racketeering acts that allegedly occurred between 1998 and 2003.
Aliens could apply for immigrant visas to enter the country to work for a U.S. employer under a program administered by the Labor Department, according to the indictment.
The employer and the person seeking work were required to fill out and send a document known as an Application for Alien Employment Certification to the department.
Once approved by the department, the form entitled the person to apply for an immigrant visa to enter the United States for the work for which he was hired.
If the person changed his or her mind, the certificates approved by the department could be resold to others who were qualified to perform the job.
“It was a relatively sophisticated fraud, the way they went about it by manipulating the immigration system,” Doody said. “They obviously had to have a fairly intimate knowledge of how the system works.”
Hussain and Ali allegedly harbored aliens who had come into the United States illegally through Canada and that they then worked with Mir to file false Labor Certification applications and visa applications, known as I-140s, on behalf of those aliens.
The indictment also alleges that Mir used business clients as unwitting sponsors of unknown aliens.
If convicted, the defendants face 20 years imprisonment on the racketeering charges, 10 years imprisonment on the document fraud charges and five years imprisonment on the conspiracy charge.