Nice Grandma Helped Convict Her Fraudy Boss. Now ICE Wants Her To Die.
The Trump administration's drive to eject every immigrant it possibly can, on any pretext, will finally put an end to the life of crime of Norma Borgono, a Florida grandma and naturalized citizen the Justice Department has identified as a dangerous lawbreaker who breaks the law.
Ms. Borgono came to the US legally from Peru in 1989, worked legally as a secretary, and applied for citizenship in 2007. She's not exactly the sort of person you'd expect the government would want to strip citizenship from -- no Nazi war crimes, no terrorism, no collusion with our enemies (though that last one may now be OK). Nonetheless, instead of looking forward to retiring, she may be facing deportation to Peru.
You see, it turns out that Borgono is also a big-time crimer. Or at least, she worked for one.
As the Miami Herald explains:
Borgono, a Miami resident for 28 years, is being targeted based on her minor role in a $24 million fraud scheme in the previous decade. As the secretary of an export company called Texon Inc., she prepared paperwork for her boss, who pocketed money from doctored loan applications filed with the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
When the feds caught wind of the scheme, Borgono cooperated. The secretary never made any money beyond her regular salary and helped the FBI make a case that put her former boss behind bars for four years. On May 17, 2012, Borgono took a plea deal and was sentenced to one year of house arrest, four years of probation and $5,000 of restitution.
The Herald notes that she even managed to pay off the restitution early by working a second job. She thought all that unpleasantness was behind her, but you see, the DOJ wants to take away her citizenship for her minimal role in helping her boss rip off the government -- when she applied for citizenship, she hadn't yet been charged, but the government claims she had to know she was a crimer, and therefore lied on the application question that asks whether the applicant has ever committed any crime.
Unlike some of the denaturalization cases the DOJ is proudly bragging about, where people with deportation orders against them lied about their identity to avoid getting caught, this case contends Ms. Borgono has to be stripped of citizenship and deported because of her answer to this question, two years before the feds came to her house about her employer's fraud scheme in 2009:
Have you EVER committed, assisted in committing, or attempted to commit, a crime or offense for which you were NOT arrested?" [emphasis in original].
Now, the Miami Herald doesn't go into any detail on the degree to which Norma Borgono even knew about the fraud, or what exact offense she agreed to plead guilty to, but we're not talking bodies buried in the crawlspace here. The article notes the Supreme Court last year took up the question of just how exacting that "EVER committed" any crime at all standard should have to be to revoke someone's citizenship. Chief Justice John Roberts said, heck, he had sometimes driven five miles an hour over the speed limit without ever being caught, and the US attorney argued that would definitely be enough to justify denaturalization:
During the hearing, Justice Stephen Breyer said he found it "rather surprising that the government of the United States thinks" the naturalization law should be "interpreted in a way that would throw into doubt the citizenship of vast percentages of all naturalized citizens."
The court ruled unanimously that only material offenses need to be disclosed.
So as Ms. Borgono's case -- like many, many others all over the country -- goes forward, the question of just what counts as a "material offense" will be key. Her scammy boss has also been targeted for denaturalization; we'd say a $24 million fraud is pretty damned material, but we're less convinced the lady who helped put him away deserves the same penalty.
Ms. Borgono's daughter, Urpi Ríos, fears if her mother is deported to Peru, it would effectively be a death sentence:
Borgono and her children suffer from a rare kidney disease called Alports syndrome that eventually leads to the loss of kidney function. They no longer have any close family or ties to Peru because Borgono's mother and brother both died from their kidney disease decades ago. Borgono has been on the Miami transplant list for two years, and Ríos is scared her mother won't be able to get proper care, let alone a transplant, if forced to go back to Peru.
"For everything that she did wrong, that she cooperated on, that she paid her debt to society for, now they want to send her away to die over there?" Ríos asked through tears.
On the other hand, ICE is stoked at the prospect that sending women in their sixties off to die will prove a strong deterrent against future migrants who might type up false documents when told to by their bosses:
"As easy as it was for the government to be defrauded in the past, it is now very easy for the government to identify fraudsters," said John Tobon, deputy special agent in charge at Miami Homeland Security Investigations. "So it is now kind of turning the tables, with the hope that people will say, 'if my risk of getting caught is now almost certain, I will choose not to take the risk.'"
The law is the law is the law, and must be enforced ruthlessly. We have no choice.
In unrelated news, supporters of Donald Trump are demanding that Paul Manafort be released from jail immediately and all charges be dropped because even if he did launder some money it was long before the election and the prosecutors are just looking for any little excuse to go after him, NO FAIR, the end.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.