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Immigration

DOJ: Illegal immigrant admits to raping young girl and taking her across state lines

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An illegal immigrant admitted Tuesday to coercion and enticement of a minor and to illegally reentering the United States, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Juan Carlos Morales-Pedraza, 34, of Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to coercion and enticement of a minor and of illegally re-entering the United States after having previously been deported, according to a statement released by the Department of Justice.

Morales-Pedraza was deported in 2010, federal officials said.

Morales-Pedraza admitted that he is a citizen of Mexico and that he illegally entered the United States after having previously been deported.

In April 2019, Morales-Pedraza approached a 15-year-old girl in Passaic County, New Jersey. Two days later, after engaging in sexual intercourse with the victim, Morales-Pedraza and the victim left New Jersey and began traveling to Illinois.

An Ohio state trooper pulled the deportee over in Lucas County for failing to yield, authorities said at the time.

“There was that feeling that something wasn’t right,” Sgt. Ivan Nunez told WTOL11.

Police said Morales-Pedraza was ‘overly friendly’ during the stop and the girl lied about her age.

Troopers then discovered the girl had been reported missing.

Detectives determined that Morales-Pedraza “forced the girl to perform acts on him,” the Ohio Highway Patrol said in a statement.

The girl was brought to a local hospital before eventually being reunited with her family, authorities in New Jersey said.

Morales-Pedraza was also brought back to New Jersey, where a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Newark indicted him on charges of kidnapping, illegal transportation of a minor and illegally re-entering the U.S. as a removed alien.

Morales-Pedraza, who has been detained since the incident, took a plea deal from the government rather than face trial.

As part of the deal, federal authorities dropped the kidnapping and illegal transportation charges, allowing Morales-Pedraza to plead guilty to coercion and enticement of a minor and re-entering the country.

The count of coercion and enticement carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and mandatory restitution. The count of illegal re-entry carries a maximum prison sentence of two years and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler scheduled sentencing for July 14.

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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Israel

A new policy by the U.S. Immigration Authority asks Israelis if they were involved in war crimes

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According to attorney Liam Schwartz, head of the Labor and Corporate Immigration Department at the Tel Aviv-based law firm of Goldfarb, Seligman, a new policy by the U.S. Immigration Authority aimed at Israelis seeks detailed explanations about military service, potentially to identify involvement in war crimes or other serious offenses.

“The U.S. Immigration Authority’s new policy is extremely worrisome,” Schwartz said. “Its impact on Israelis could be broad, affecting areas such as relocation for work, academic studies, and family reunification.”

This policy extends beyond green card applications. Israelis applying for visas at U.S. embassies outside Israel may also face rigorous questioning. Y Net News discusses the case of Yuval, a senior manager at a high-tech company in Silicon Valley, who recently received a surprising letter from the U.S. Immigration Authority regarding his green card application. The letter requested detailed information about his service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from 2005 to 2008, raising concerns about a potential shift in U.S. immigration policy towards Israeli applicants.

The letter demanded an affidavit under oath addressing several specific questions about Yuval’s military service. These included queries about his participation in combat, command roles, guarding detainees, and the use of weapons or explosives. Yuval must provide satisfactory answers within 87 days to avoid deportation.

Yuval expressed shock at the detailed nature of the questions, noting that he had previously provided basic information about his military service when applying for his work visa two years ago. “I feel as if questions were copied from the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” he remarked.

While cooperation with U.S. authorities regarding military service is necessary for visa or green card applications, Schwartz highlighted a conflict with Israeli laws on military confidentiality. He suggested that in some cases, it might be more practical for applicants to consider leaving the U.S.

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