- Former head of the League of United Latin American Citizens
- Open Borders advocate
- Was convicted on ten counts of immigration fraud, resulting in a 57-month prison sentence
Born in 1938, Jose Velez served as director of the Nevada chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in the late 1980s, and as the organization’s national president from 1990-94. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Velez, who characterized the U.S. Border Patrol as an entity that was, and would “always” be, “the enemy of my people,” operated a private immigration-consulting service in Las Vegas which helped illegal aliens prepare and file legalization (amnesty) applications with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Between March 1988 and January 1991, Velez personally submitted more than 6,000 of these applications to the INS. They were designed to help Velez’s clients obtain Temporary Resident Cards, which in turn enabled them to apply for Resident Alien Cards (commonly known as “green cards”)—a prerequisite for permanent U.S. residency and, ultimately, American citizenship.
Thousands of the applications submitted by Velez contained false information claiming, most notably, that the applicants were eligible for amnesty consideration because they had: (a) performed the required amount of seasonal agricultural services in the United States, or (b) resided continuously in the U.S. since before January 1, 1982.
In 1995, an INS Legalization Fraud Task Force investigated Velez and uncovered massive evidence of his illegal activities. On May 8 of that year, a jury in Las Vegas found him guilty of 10 counts of immigration fraud. Among Velez’s transgressions:
- He purchased and filed (with the INS) a host of partially completed, fraudulent affidavits—signed by a farm labor contractor—falsely indicating that the applicants whom Velez represented had fulfilled their requisite agricultural duties.
- He trained and assisted other immigration consultants in likewise preparing and filing falsified applications. For a fee of $1,000 per case, Velez supplied these consultants with fake supporting employment documents to corroborate the credentials of each unqualified client.
- He purchased hundreds of otherwise blank envelopes bearing backdated postmarks from various Mexican cities, to be addressed to applicants at U.S. locations where they never actually lived, so as to create the illusion of lengthy United States residency. Velez used some of these envelopes for his own criminal purposes, and sold many others to similarly unethical immigration consultants.
- In June 1989, LULAC filed 300 late amnesty applications—virtually all of which were fraudulent—for the clients of one immigration consultant in particular. Velez pocketed some $270,000 from this unlawful arrangement alone.
In all of these transactions, Velez demanded payment in cash for his services. He commonly took in more than $10,000 per day, and in the 1990 calendar year he grossed over $1 million in income.
A district court initially sentenced Velez to 75 months in prison for his crimes. The defendant subsequently appealed the punishment, claiming that the court had applied the sentencing guidelines incorrectly. The case was remanded for re-sentencing, and Velez’s prison term was reduced to 57 months.
Further Reading: “Former National Hispanic Leader Found Guilty of Immigration Fraud” (Justice.gov, 5-9-1995); “United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Jose Velez, Defendant-Appellant” (OpenJurist.org, 1999; Caselaw.Findlaw.com, 1997).