A federal judge refused Thursday to dismiss charges against an Arab activist and naturalized US Citizen accused of failing to tell U.S. immigration officials in Michigan that she’d been convicted in a fatal terrorist bombing in Jerusalem. Rasmieh Odeh, associate director at the Arab American Action Network was charged by Federal Prosecutors for failing to disclose on her immigration applications including her application for US Citizenship her 1969 arrest and imprisonment for a terrorist bombing attack. The article citing Odeh’s failure, Trial set for immigrant convicted in Israel deaths
underscores the criminal consequences for lying to a federal officer including applications for any US Immigration benefit. Interestingly, Odeh was naturalized in 2004 after she failed to disclose the arrest and imprisonment by Israel. However, US officials in typical slow but thorough fashion, are now going after her for these omissions.
We wrote on the issue of lying to a federal officer in a previous blog which cited an article by Solomon Wisenberg, a white collar crime lawyer in Washington, DC. In that article, Wisenberg details the serious ramifications that await those who lie to a federal officer, including US citizens and in this case, naturalized US citizens. As Mr. Wisenberg pointed out, “Did you know that it is a crime to tell a lie to the federal government? Even if your lie is oral and not under oath? Even if you have received no warnings of any kind? Even if you are not trying to cheat the government out of money? The governing statute is found Under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1001 which states it is a crime to knowingly and willfully make any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the United States.
Many immigrants can’t see how a small white lie on an immigration application can hurt. This is a huge example of how hard it can hurt. If convicted, Odeh and those like her face imprisonment. She also faces being stripped of her US citizenship and deportation as a terrorist.
In Ms. Odeh’s case, she clearly would not have been eligible for the benefit of US citizenship, much less lawful permanent residency or even a temporary visa had she disclosed the truth. In my practice, I come across many immigrants under the mistaken impression that a simple white lie
can’t hurt them. Whether such misguided beliefs stem from their being from a country where it may not only be an acceptable practice to commit fraud or misrepresent themselves but the way to get ahead, it is never advisable to undertake such a risky practice here. In my experience dealing with US Department of Homeland Security, it’s not IF “they” will find out you lied, but WHEN.