A Mexican national pleaded guilty to conspiring to encourage illegal immigration for financial gain by selling illegally obtained U.S. temporary work visas, the Texarkana Gazette reported Thursday.
Jesus Martinez-Rubio was arrested and charged in Texarkana, Arkansas, after meeting with an undercover officer posing as a business owner selling H-2B visas on June 11, according to a criminal complaint, the Gazette reported. Martinez-Rubio was discovered through an Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation after entering the U.S. on an H-2B visa 37 times since 1997.
“Under the United States immigration laws, a foreign-born national can obtain an H-2B visa to work on a temporary basis in the U.S., provided that the individual has a contract for employment and there is a certified need for such a worker,” the complaint said, the Gazette reported.
“To obtain an H-2B visa, a petitioning employer must show that there was not a qualified American worker available for the position that had been advertised,” the complaint said, the Gazette reported.
DHS will provide an additional 35,000 H-2B seasonal non-agricultural guest worker visas for the 2020 summer seasonhttps://t.co/P5j4RIIAkX
— Rebecca Rainey (@RebeccaARainey) March 5, 2020
Martinez-Rubio, who Immigration and Customs Enforcement began investigating in 2018, told the undercover officer that he planned to buy H-2B visas for himself and 16 other Mexican citizens for $20,000, the Gazette reported. Martinez-Rubio said he profited $500 per visa sold and said it was cheaper than paying to be smuggled into the U.S.
The immigrants would be required to pay Martinez-Rubio an additional $2,000 upon arrival, the Gazette reported. Martinez-Rubio said the immigrants would use the visas to enter the U.S. but would not work for the companies for which the visas were issued.
A man who paid Martinez-Rubio $1,000 for an illegally obtained H-2B visa to work with him at a nursery in Mississippi was with him when he was arrested, the Gazette reported. He told investigators that Martinez-Rubio required him to pay an additional $1,700 to leave the nursery for a higher paying job in Texas.
Martinez-Rubio virtually appeared before U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey for his plea hearing on Wednesday, the Gazette reported. (RELATED: DHS Authorizes 15,000 Extra Guest Worker Visas)
Martinez-Rubio faces a maximum fine of $250,000 and up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted, the Gazette reported. He will likely be deported when released from federal custody.
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