One of the top lawyers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been accused of identity theft in order to defraud various financial agencies.
The Associated Press, along with a Fox affiliate in Seattle, reported on Tuesday that ICE attorney Raphael A. Sanchez has been indicted in U.S. District Court on charges of aggravated identity theft and wire fraud. Sanchez resigned from his position at ICE the same day the indictments were filed. BuzzFeed News reported that Sanchez allegedly used immigrants’ identities to defraud Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, American Express, Capital One, Citibank, and Discover.
Past news reports dating back several years show Sanchez has long since been one of the top legal officials within the agency. A Seattle Times article from March of 2012 names Sanchez as “ICE’s chief counsel” regarding a review of various immigrants’ cases. A LinkedIn profile belonging to a “Raphael Sanchez” in Seattle, Washington lists his position as “chief counsel” at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE.
Sanchez’s case is just one of many problematic instances of ICE agents using their authority to allegedly carry out crimes with little to no accountability. In April of 2017, NBC News reported that 27 alleged victims of sexual assault in ICE’s immigration detention centers filed a federal civil rights complaint against DHS with the help of California non-profit Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC). CIVIC alleges that between 2010 and 2016, the DHS Office of the Inspector General received roughly 33,000 sexual assault complaints, but investigated less than one percent of them.
The identity theft charges against Sanchez also come just weeks after an ICE deportation agent was convicted of extorting immigrants in his custody for tens of thousands of dollars. In addition to forfeiting the $75,000 he extorted from detainees, Arnaldo Echevarria was also sentenced to seven years in prison, followed by three years of unsupervised release.
Last August, an ICE agent was charged with sexually assaulting an airport worker at LAX in 2014. Kanwar Dhaliwal is facing charges of assault to commit rape, sodomy, and oral copulation; sexual batter by restraint, and assault by a public officer. Dhaliwal ceased working with ICE in 2016 after Customs and Border Protection fired him as a result of the alleged assault. If convicted, Dhaliwal faces up to six years in prison.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.