Judge orders jail for activist Maylin Silva, convicted of immigration fraud

Maylin Silva
Venezuelan activist Maylin Silva must serve a sentence of 2 years and 6 months (30 months) for immigration fraud (Photo: Todos Por Venezuela).

A federal judge sentenced Venezuelan activist Maylin Silva, convicted of immigration fraud, to 30 months in prison.

Following an investigation last year, federal agents discovered that Silva, 63, prepared fraudulent immigration applications that allowed undocumented Venezuelans to live and work in the United States for nearly 10 years. In return, Silva received payments totaling at least $$150,000 a year, his lawyer said in court, according to a report in the newspaper El Nuevo Herald.

Silva was known as the leader of an opposition group to the Venezuelan government called All for Venezuela.

The court case against Silva began in September 2015, when a grand jury indicted her on charges of immigration fraud.

Silva tried to flee to Venezuela to avoid going to jail, but was arrested at the Miami airport on November 2 last year, just before she was able to board her flight and escape. That morning, she had cut off the electronic monitoring bracelet she was wearing on her ankle in order to escape.

The original indictment against Silva for immigration fraud carried a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if she was found guilty at trial, and for attempted flight, or contempt of court, she faced a maximum sentence of life in prison if a jury found her guilty.

To avoid going to trial and reduce the penalties against him, Silva pleaded guilty to immigration fraud and contempt of court.

Judge Darrin Gayles imposed a 30-month sentence against Silva - 24 months for the immigration fraud and 6 months for the contempt of court and attempted escape.

In addition, the judge added 3 years of supervised release to the sentence, and determined that Silva must also cooperate with immigration authorities if they decide to place her in deportation proceedings at the end of her prison sentence.

Sadly, this is another example of a pro-immigrant activist found guilty of crimes affecting the immigrant community. In California, Gloria Saucedo, director of Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, Inc. of Panorama City was found guilty of practicing law without a license. Saucedo accepted a plea bargain agreement in August, which stipulates that she must reimburse her for the money she charged her alleged victims.

In Virginia, authorities found Rose Sanchez-Cañete, executive director of the Latino Federation of Tenants Association (LAFEOTA), guilty of defrauding immigrants.

These cases demonstrate once again that undocumented immigrants should be very careful to seek legal advice from a licensed and experienced professional. Please do not risk your immigration status by going to people who do not have the proper knowledge to help you.