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Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 37-page indictment against three Russian entities and 13 Russian individuals may have legal implications for illegal aliens residing in the United States, and could serve as grounds for deportation.
Mueller accuses the Russian nationals of “knowingly and intentionally conspiring to defraud the United States” by hindering the functions of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of State for “the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.”
The introduction of the indictment lays out the theory of the case against the Russians:
The United States of America . . . regulates the activities of foreign individuals and entities in and affecting the United States in order to prevent, disclose, and counteract improper foreign influence on U.S. elections and on the U.S. political system. U.S. law bans foreign nationals from making certain expenditures or financial disbursements for the purpose of influencing federal elections. U.S. law also bars agents of any foreign entity from engaging in political activities within the United States without first registering with the Attorney General. And U.S. law requires certain foreign nationals seeking entry to the United States to obtain a visa by providing truthful and accurate information to the government. Various federal agencies, including the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of State, are charged with enforcing these laws.
The indictment charges the defendants with working in concert to travel to the United States under false pretenses, and to steal identities of U.S. citizens to create email accounts and establish fake social media accounts so they could publish content and organize political rallies using false personas. Flouting the Federal Election Commission’s ban on foreign money in electioneering communications, they also conspired to conceal their political expenditures by funneling them through PayPal and other online financial entities (wire fraud and bank fraud), and failed to register with the Justice Department as foreign agents.
But Russians aren’t the only foreign nationals working to interfere in United States affairs. Many are here illegally, are politically active in grassroots organizations, post on social media, and attend protest marches. In fact, it’s fairly commonplace. Mexican and other foreign nationals participate in all kinds of activities to influence public opinion and government policy, just as the Russians named in Mueller’s indictment allegedly did. Many of them may be colluding with their governments to evade our laws and subvert their enforcement.
While the scope of the political activity permitted to illegal aliens under 2 U.S.C. §441e (contributions and donations by foreign nationals) and the First Amendment has not been resolved by the courts, illegal aliens clearly are subject to the same restrictions as the defendants in the indictment.
The defendants are accused of “knowingly and intentionally conspir[ing] to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of State in administering federal requirements for disclosure of foreign involvement in certain domestic activities.”
Delving into the particulars of each of the eight counts:
- Internet Research Agency (IRA), Concord Management and Consulting, and Concord Catering were indicted for conspiring to defraud the United States under 18 U.S.C. §371, by obstructing the lawful functions of the FEC in administering the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) ban on foreign expenditures for electioneering communications, the DOJ in administering the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) and the U.S. Department of State in issuing non-immigrant visas. Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, who owned these companies, and a dozen high-ranking managerial employees were also charged in this count.
- IRA and employees Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov and Gleb Igorevich Vasilchenko were indicted for conspiring under 18 U.S.C. §1349 to commit wire fraud under 18 U.S.C. §1343 and bank fraud under 18 U.S.C. §1344.
- IRA and employees Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov, Gleb Igorevich Vasilchenko, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina and Vladimir Venkov were indicted on six counts of aggravated identity theft under 18 U.S.C. §1028A.
Based on the theory of the case, foreign nationals in the U.S. illegally, as well as those who aid and abet them in evading deportation, could also be charged with similar offenses under 18 U.S.C. §§371 and 1028A:
- Noncitizens who overstay their visas have defrauded the State Department if they didn’t truthfully divulge their intentions to a U.S. consular officer when they applied for nonimmigrant visa.
- The number of noncitizen adults who illegally registered to vote was estimated between 800,000 and 2.2 million in 2013. A 2014 study by professors of political science at Old Dominion University and George Mason University found that “non-citizen voting likely changed 2008 outcomes including Electoral College votes and the composition of Congress.” Illegal aliens who have registered to vote in the U.S. and/or have voted in elections have defrauded the FEC.
- Illegal aliens routinely purchase Social Security numbers, green cards, birth certificates, and other fake documentation to create false personas to apply for jobs, fraudulently claim tax credits on state and federal tax forms, and apply for Federal Housing Administration-backed loans. In addition to aggravated identity theft, they are committing perjury on W-9 forms and tax forms—and are involved in a conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Since 2009, courts have ruled that using false documentation to obtain work is not grounds for immediate deportation—but being party to a criminal conspiracy to obtain and use a phony social security number could be considered “a crime of moral turpitude,” as it is “a continuing offense.”
Going by the charges in Mueller’s indictment, purchase and use of false documentation is a conspiracy to use fraud and deceit to impair, obstruct, and defeat the lawful functions of the State Department, the Department of Justice, the IRS, and the Social Security Administration, among other government agencies. Also complicit in these crimes are:
- Developers of smartphone apps and text messaging services that warn illegal aliens when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are conducting sweeps at homes, workplaces or traffic checkpoints are interfering with the lawful functions of the Department of Homeland Security and of ICE.
- City and state legislators who have enacted legislation or ordinances to create sanctuary jurisdictions, and the officials who enforce policies that thwart the lawful functions of ICE, are conspiring to defraud the United States. Foremost among them are lawmakers and officials in California, which enacted legislation to become a “sanctuary state.”
Earlier this month, several immigration rights groups filed a suit against ICE alleging the agency is “unconstitutionally using its power to suppress political dissent by targeting outspoken immigration activists for surveillance and deportation,” reports The Hill. The complaint states: “The Government’s targeting of activists on the basis of their core political speech is unfair, discriminatory, and un-American. And it violates the First Amendment.”
Based on the theory of Mueller’s case, they could be charged with several of the same felonies under 18 U.S.C. §371, which may strengthen the case for deporting them and other illegal aliens. And a host of state and local officials, grassroots organizations and others who impede the enforcement of federal immigration law, or abet identity theft and other fraud, could theoretically be prosecuted for 18 U.S.C. §371 offenses as well.