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Immigration Law

Hundreds of Immigrants Fell for Adoption-for-Citizenship Scam

Stephen Magagnini, Sacramento Bee, May 14, 2017 - "Many of Helaman Hansen’s hundreds of victims first heard about his citizenship-through-adoption scheme in their neighborhood churches.  The 64-year-old Elk Grove businessman or his surrogates would show up promising undocumented immigrants that, for a fee, they’d be adopted into loving families and given fresh birth certificates and Social Security numbers, along with job training, to pursue the good life in the United States. Between October 2012 and January 2016, 471 immigrants from Mexico, Fiji, India, Ecuador, Laos and other nations paid between $150 to $10,000 apiece to join Hansen’s “Migration Program.”  Some victims completed the adoption stage of the scheme, but not one person obtained citizenship, according to evidence presented at Hansen’s trial, which concluded with his conviction Tuesday. Immigration experts said Hansen’s scheme was just one part of a growing industry that routinely offers false hopes to immigrants desperate for some path to legal residency. Federal authorities called Hansen’s scam possibly the largest case of its kind, with the highest number of victims, and the first ever to be prosecuted. ... A jury in the U.S. district court in Sacramento found Hansen guilty on 12 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and two counts of encouraging and inducing illegal immigration for private financial gain. Hansen faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of mail and wire fraud, and up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine on each count of inducing illegal immigration. Hansen is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 3 by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr."