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:
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).