In the case of The United States vs. Josue Osmaro Garcia-Ochoa, the 4th District Court of Appeals recently affirmed the conviction of Josue Osmaro Garcia-Ochoa for falsely claiming to be a citizen of the United States when completing I-9 forms. Garcia-Ochoa, a Salvador national, entered the U.S. in 1998, and received Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and work authorization. When completing the I-9 form, he falsely designated himself to be a “citizen or national of the United States” or “lawful permanent resident” on three separate occasions.
Garcia-Ochoa argued that the misrepresentation was not material because the I-9 was completed for private employment. The court noted that government agencies do not forfeit their power when private entities assist in enforcement and that his precise immigration status is relevant to ICE under federal law. The court found that the misrepresentation of his immigration status on the I-9 was material and upheld the lower court’s conviction. Garcia-Ochoa was sentenced to prison time, parole and a monetary fine. Additionally, he lost his work authorization status and is in the process of deportation proceedings.