Special agents from the Department of Homeland Security arrested an Ethiopian refugee after he was indicted on Tuesday on felony charges of allegedly fraudulently obtaining U.S. citizenship.
“Mergia Negussie Habteyes, 58, is charged in an indictment, which was returned by a grand jury for the Eastern District of Virginia on Aug. 14, alleging that Negussie told a series of lies to U.S. immigration authorities in the course of obtaining authority to enter the United States as a refugee, subsequently obtaining lawful permanent-resident status, and ultimately obtaining U.S. citizenship,” The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement released on Friday:
Specifically, the indictment asserts that, when he applied for naturalization in the United States, Negussie falsely stated that he never persecuted persons because of their political opinion, and he failed to disclose that he had committed a crime or offense for which he was not arrested.
In fact, according to the indictment, Negussie served as a civilian interrogator in the Higher 3 prison in Ethiopia in the late 1970s, during a period known as the Red Terror. In that role, Negussie is alleged to have participated in the persecution, through brutality, of individuals imprisoned because of their political opinion.
Additionally, Negussie falsely stated that he never gave false or misleading information to any U.S. government official while applying for any immigration benefit and that he never lied to U.S. immigration authorities to gain entry or admission into the United States and to obtain immigration benefits.
“Negussie’s initial court appearance is at 2:00 p.m. [Friday] before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff of the Eastern District of Virginia,” according to the DOJ statement.
News of the arrest of the Ethiopian refugee in Virginia on felony charges follows the announcement this week of the arrest of an Iraqi refugee and alleged Islamic State murderer in California, who was charged with lying on his refugee application and now faces an extradition hearing based on a warrant for the 2014 of an Iraqi police officer issued by an Iraqi judge in May of this year.
The arrests of two refugees who allegedly blatantly lied on their applications for admission to the United States under the Refugee Admissions Program confirms a key theme of President Donald Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign: the federal refugee resettlement program under the Obama administration completely failed in vetting foreign applicants approved for admission into the country.
The arrests also come “one month before President Trump announces his presidential determination of the cap on the number of refugees to be admitted into the country in FY 2019,” as Breitbart News reported:
In FY 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration, 84,995 refugees were admitted to the United States, more than 36,000 of which came from seven countries which had been designated by the Department of State as hotbeds of terrorism: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
As of July 31 of this year, more than 10 months into FY 2018, the first full fiscal year of the Trump administration, 18,214 refugees have been admitted to the United States, less than 1,000 arriving from those seven hotbed of terrorism countries.
In September 2017, President Trump announced a refugee cap of 45,000 for FY 2018. Less than half that number will arrive this year.
Numerous press reports indicate that the president is expected to announce an even lower refugee cap for FY 2019–which could be anywhere from no refugees at all to 25,000.
“Negussie allegedly concealed his role in persecuting Ethiopian prisoners for their political opinions during that country’s so-called Red Terror period when he applied for, and ultimately obtained, U.S. citizenship,” Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski said in the DOJ statement.
“Negussie sought to outrun his past by allegedly employing deception to fraudulently obtain United States citizenship. This indictment reflects the government’s dedication to investigating and prosecuting criminal immigration cases, including those involving alleged human rights violators,” U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger added.
“The case is being jointly prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jamie Perry of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Blanchard of the Eastern District of Virginia,” the DOJ statement concluded.