Immigration

New case of fictitious marriages with Cubans emerges in Miami

In this 2015 photo, a couple walks out the door after their wedding at a Catholic church in Manila, Philippines.
In this 2015 photo, a couple walks out the door after their wedding at a Catholic church in Manila, Philippines. AP

A new case involving alleged marriage fraud between Cuban nationals and undocumented immigrants has emerged in Miami federal court records.

The indictment, issued by a federal grand jury in Georgia, charged at least 15 people — most of them Cubans. Among them were three people arrested in Miami, according to court documents.

It is the most recent case in a long series of similar episodes in Miami and other parts of the country involving undocumented immigrants who have paid thousands of dollars each to Americans or permanent residents of Cuban origin to marry them and thus be able to apply for a green card, and later citizenship.

Marriage to Cuban residents is preferable for many undocumented immigrants because close relatives of a Cuban who is granted permanent residency under the Cuban Adjustment Act may also obtain permanent residency, instead of conditional residency.

Two similar cases came to light last year when several people, including Cubans, were charged in Miami federal court for allegedly “recruiting” undocumented immigrants to marry Cubans in exchange for money. One of the Cubans charged in that 2016 case allegedly received $10,000 to marry a Venezuelan so she could obtain a green card.

In another case, also in 2016, court records show that one of the defendants married at least 10 “husbands” between 2002 and 2012 in exchange for money.

In the case that emerged April 11 in Miami federal court, undocumented immigrants also paid to marry Cubans, but court records do not mention the amounts they paid.

The case began in 2011 when investigators found that in Georgia and other cities in the southeastern United States, the 15 defendants — including the three in Miami — “conspired” to marry foreign nationals for the purpose of helping them apply for permanent residency.

Of those charged, 12 were Cubans, according to court records. The three arrested in Miami were identified in the indictment as Yuly Cesar Pérez-Sale, Dagnay Rivera Núñez and Francisco Castellanos Arjona.

The case was made public after the federal grand jury in Georgia handed down the indictment on Dec. 21.

Court records in Atlanta included arrest warrants against the three in Miami.

On April 11, federal agents in Miami arrested Pérez-Sale, Rivera Núñez and Castellanos Arjona.

Two days later, U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres signed orders transferring the three to Georgia to answer charges there.

The three were assigned federal public defenders, but they could not be reached for comment.

Follow Alfonso Chardy on Twitter: @AlfonsoChardy

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