Tuesday, March 26, 2002
Pakistani Man Sentenced to Four Months For Visa Fraud
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
A Pakistani man who spent two years in the U.S. illegally on a student visa was sentenced yesterday to four months in prison for lying about his immigration status to land a job at a Fountain Valley electronics store.
Salman Hyder, 19, pled guilty to the charge in January, telling a federal judge that he paid $10 to purchase a fake Social Security card from an unspecified black-market vendor. Hyder then used the bogus card at Fry’s Electronics as proof that he was legally authorized to work in the U.S.—something he was not allowed to do under the terms of his student visa.
“What bothers me is this is a flagrant disregard of immigration laws,” U.S. District Court Judge Wm. Matthew Byrne Jr. said.
Hyder, a Pakistani citizen, said he entered the U.S. on a student visa in January 2000 with the intention of taking classes at Irvine Valley College in Irvine. But by the time he arrived all the classes, with the exception of art appreciation, were full, Hyder and his attorney said, leaving him without the required 12 units to keep his full-time student status.
Hyder was enrolled as a student at Irvine Valley College only during the spring 2000 semester, during which time he only took one class.
Hyder’s attorney, Carrye Washington, tried to convince Byrne that Hyder wanted to be a full-time student, but he was unable to get the classes he needed and then his father lost his job in Saudi Arabia and could no longer pay for Hyder’s education.
But Byrne questioned whether Hyder ever really intended to be a student.
“He didn’t go to school in the fall, the following spring, or the following fall and he is a student?” Byrne asked.
“I was inexperienced in life, in making choices,” Hyder told Byrne at his sentencing. “I made the wrong move.”
Hyder and his former Fountain Valley roommate, Ahmed Atta, were arrested Oct. 8 by federal agents for violating terms of their student visas.
After they spent nearly two months in custody, an immigration judge in December granted Atta and Hyder permission to return to Pakistan voluntarily rather than face deportation. But the pair were charged with visa fraud and taken into custody the next day.
Washington told Byrne Atta and Hyder were being held for questioning relating to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Because of the time Hyder has already spent in federal custody, he is scheduled to be released April 5.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eliot Krieger contended that since Hyder never was a student under the requirements of his student visa, he has always been in the U.S. illegally.
Atta, also a student from Pakistan, pled guilty to lying about his immigration status to get a job. He was sentenced to time served in February.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company