Fifteen men accused of working illegally under false identities at a Louisiana construction site have been arrested, Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said Monday.
All fifteen defendants are living in the United States illegally, according to the press release from the Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Last week, a federal grand jury in Beaumont indicted them, “charging the individuals with identity theft, using social security numbers of actual citizens, and making false claims of United States citizenship in order to obtain jobs at the facility over the past three years.”
They were working at a liquefied natural gas facility that is under construction in Cameron, Louisiana.
According to the release, they illegally obtained legitimate social security numbers and false birth certificates, which were “primarily issued in Puerto Rico.” That enabled them to get ID cards from states including Arkansas, Missouri and Texas, and allowed them “to pass the E-verify systems used by their employers to ascertain U.S. citizenship or alien lawful work permits.”
They were hired by subcontractors who used Port Arthur hiring offices to review applications, interview candidates and verify their immigration status, the release said.
Two of the fifteen are from Guatemala, one is from Honduras, and twelve are from Mexico, according to Featherston’s announcement.
If convicted, they each face up to five years in federal prison. “Some had previous encounters with immigration authorities and had returned to the United States, which can lead to further charges being added or increased sentences upon conviction of the current charges,” the release said.