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U.S. religious visa fraud sweep nets 29

Nov. 16, 2006 at 10:23 AM

NEW YORK, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. federal agents were holding 29 suspects in 11 cities Thursday on visa fraud charges involving people posing as Muslim religious workers.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Dean Boyd said the sweep targeted several organizations he would not name that charged would-be immigrants fees and filed false applications for special visas under the Religious Worker Program.

The arrests took place Wednesday in Atlanta; Boston; Buffalo, N.Y.; Harrisburg, Va ; Hartford, Conn.; New York; Newark, N.J.; Philadelphia; St. Paul, Minn.; Philadelphia and Washington, USA Today reported.

ICE spokesman Marc Raimondi told the newspaper those with the special visas are only allowed to work at religious jobs but among those arrested were a gas station attendant, truck driver and factory worker.

The sweep also netted eight other people on different immigration charges, Raimondi said.

All of those arrested could be deported if found guilty of violating federal law, the report said.

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