Dream Stealer: Top ICE Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Stealing 7 Immigrants' Identities

Dream Stealer: Top ICE Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Stealing 7 Immigrants’ Identities

Chief counsel for the Seattle U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, Raphael Sanchez, plead guilty on Thursday to stealing the identities of seven immigrants in the midst of their immigration proceedings–all to defraud major financial institutions. A plea agreement was reached which will recommend a 4 year sentence, however the judge is not bound by the plea agreement, and could levy up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million dollar fine.

According to the Justice Department, Sanchez hatched a scheme to steal immigrants’ identities and leave them on the hook with institutions such as American Express, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase–you name it. So far, however, NPR writes:

“[Sanchez] is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, occurring between October 2013 and October 2017.”

The one-out-of-seven charge sticking to Sanchez thus far cites an email the chief ICE lawyer sent to himself back in April, 2016. He sent an email from his work email to his personal Yahoo account, the contents of which included “an energy bill addressed to a Chinese national identified only as R.H… a photo of R.H.’s U.S. permanent resident card and a copy of the biographical page from his Chinese passport.” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer states Sanchez paid that energy bill using R.H.’s identity, thereby committing fraud.

Among the more disturbing aspects of the crime, Sanchez reportedly used the photograph of a murder victim he found in the newspaper when stealing the identity of a female victim.

ICE in Action

According to The Washington Post:

“ICE agents in Washington have played an active role in President Trump’s immigration crackdown. They arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants in September’s ‘Operation Safe City’ operation, a four-day effort in which the administration targeted ‘sanctuary cities’ around the country, including Seattle, where local officials do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.”

The Associated Press asserts Sanchez has waived his right to a grand jury indictment, as evidenced by the type of document charging Seattle’s disgraced top ICE lawyer, who until he was found to be a criminal, was involved in ICE’s crackdown on immigration since Trump’s inauguration.

Sanchez resigned from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office Monday.

The Justice Department filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Featured image by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via Wikimedia; Public Domain.

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Dylan Hock is a writer, educator, and activist. He serves as a volunteer board member of The James Jackson Museum of African American History.