Normally, when immigration officers deny admission to a foreign visitor it’s because the visa or passport is false.
But Nicaraguan Mario Alberto Paez Pravia was arrested on March 22 at Miami International Airport (MIA) because papers he presented to a U.S. consul to prove he needed a visa for medical treatment in the United States were allegedly fake, according to a criminal complaint filed in Miami federal court.
The case is among those that have departed from the norm at MIA passport control in recent weeks.
The case involving Paez began March 22 when the Nicaraguan arrived at MIA a flight from Managua, according to the criminal complaint filed by a CBP officer.
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According to the complaint, Paez produced a Nicaraguan passport that bore a genuine U.S. visa for entry into the United States.
But something seemed amiss to the passport control officer because Paez was referred to a unit called secondary inspection where travelers are questioned more closely about their immigration status.
“The defendant was referred to secondary inspection by CBP Rover Unit as an intended entry by fraud,” according to the complaint.
During the secondary interrogation, CBP officers discovered that Paez had obtained his U.S. visa through false statements submitted with his application.
“An inspection of the defendant’s luggage revealed fraudulent medical records and bank statement that had been presented to the consular officer in order to obtain the visa,” the criminal complaint charged.
How CBP officers concluded that the medical records were false is not explained in the criminal complaint. But eventually, the CBP interrogation paid off.
“The defendant admitted to officers of CBP that he did not have any medical condition, but had been in a motorcycle accident,” the criminal complaint said. “The defendant also admitted that he gave the consular officer the fraudulent medical records and bank statements so that his visa would not be denied.”
The criminal complaint said Paez also disclosed to CBP interrogators that he had paid $5,000 to a “document vendor” for the false medical records.
The complaint did not describe the false medical records or what kind of documents the consul requested or examined in Nicaragua.
But the State Department visa website says among documents that foreign nationals seeking medical treatment in the United States must present is a letter from a physician or medical facility in the United States stating clearly that they are willing to treat the visitor’s specific ailment.
CBP did not respond to an email message about the case.
Paez’s attorney, a federal public defender, said she was going to check to see whether she could comment but then did not call el Nuevo Herald with a comment.
Paez was arraigned April 10 and is now awaiting trial in June.
Follow Alfonso Chardy on Twitter @AlfonsoChardy