A Dallas immigration attorney was sentenced to six months in federal prison for paying a man $800 to illegally marry a woman for the sole purpose of American citizenship.
Bilal Ahmed Khaleeq, 48, owns his own law firm in Texas, he wanted to help one of his female office workers gain American citizenship, so he paid a man off to do it. Khaleeq pleaded guilty to his actions.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement otherwise known as ICE, Khaleeq helped his assistant Amna Cheema, 38, obtain a fake marriage in order to get legal status. Cheema is a Pakistani national. In May 2015, Khaleeq intentionally solicited a male naturalized U.S. citizen. Khaleeq was able to convince the man to marry Cheema for $800. The man's name was not identified in court documents.
Cheema and the unidentified man got married in June 2015 and their marriage license was issued within 30 days. The fake couple were married in Dallas County and then filed a permanent residence application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services.
But in an attempt to further fool immigration officials, Khaleeq coached the newly wed couple on how to answer immigration questions. Khaleeq advised Cheema and her husband on the preparation of the I-130 petition and supporting documents needed to make the marriage appear legitimate.
Khaleeq also helped them create joint bank accounts and tax returns that helped them look like a lawful couple. Additionally, Khaleeq instructed the husband to leave clothing and pictures at Cheema’s home to make it look like the couple lived together because Immigration officials visit the homes of people applying for the I-130 petition.
The husband, who was not identified in the case, had asked Khaleeq if he would get into trouble for his part in the scheme, and the immigration attorney allegedly said, “he would not be prosecuted as long as he did not admit culpability,” the indictment stated. The husband was given almost $800 and promised more once Cheema’s legal status was approved. Khaleeq represented the couple at their U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) interview in April 2016.
Over a year later in July 2017 Khaleeq and Cheema were arrested by federal authorities for their role in the marriage fraud. Khaleeq and Cheema both eventually pled guilty. Khaleeq was sentenced to 6 months in prison and Cheema was sentenced to time served. There is no word on the unidentified husband's case, and it is not known how authorities discovered the fraud.
Katrina W. Berger, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Dallas, said in a statement:
“Immigration attorneys risk severe consequences when they choose to illegally profit by breaking U.S. immigration laws rather than building a profession on following those laws. HSI and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate immigration fraud — especially by immigration attorneys.”
To combat this type of fraud, Homeland Security Investigations has partnered with federal, state, and local counterparts to create the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, a series of multi-agency teams developed to target criminal organizations and beneficiaries behind these fraudulent schemes. These task forces maximize resources, eliminate the duplication of efforts and produce a strong law enforcement presence.
Khaleeq's law firm employs 31 people and serves Dallas’ Indian and Pakistani community.
Khaleeq has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas, Austin, a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Rice University in Houston, Texas and a Juris Doctorate degree from Creighton University, in Omaha, Nebraska.