A 36-year-old woman was sentenced to six months in federal prison Friday for conspiring to commit visa fraud by helping four noncitizens to falsely claim they had been assaulted and robbed.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said that Yuridia Hernandez Linares, who pleaded guilty last year, crafted a plan in which four individuals falsely reported to the Eden Prairie Police Department that they were victims of robberies in Eden Prairie.
In each case, the four individuals alleged they were assaulted and slashed by two Somali men using a box cutter. By claiming to be victims of a crime, the four individuals could then apply for what is known as a “U Visa” that would allow them to adjust their status to become lawful permanent residents of the United States.
Linares charged each of the four $2,000.
She was also sentenced in January in Hennepin District Court to three years’ probation and 180 days on home electronic monitoring for swindling the four individuals. After she serves her prison sentence she will be deported.
In 2015, Linares claimed she and a friend were the victims of a similar attack in Eden Prairie and in 2016 she applied for a U Visa.
In a memorandum arguing for the six month sentence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Munoz said it was appropriate under federal guidelines. Noting that Linares created that fake narrative that two Somali men were the assailants, Munoz wrote:
“Ms. Hernandez Linares’ false identification perpetuated racial and ethnic stereotypes and created irreversible harm in our community.”
The four people who alleged they were robbed under instructions by Linares were identified in court documents only by initials.
Bruce Nestor, a Minneapolis immigration attorney who was not involved in the case, said that the four were victims. He said the case illustrates “how the absence of a humane immigration policy allows people to prey upon the immigrant community and forces immigrants to seek desperate options to keep their families together.”