Immigration officer charged with harboring illegal alien girlfriend

BEYOND BERGEN: A deportation officer who federal authorities said protected his illegal alien girlfriend by setting her up in an apartment and having her run a hair salon he owned surrendered to ICE agents this morning, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.

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After getting permission from his superiors to open a hair salon in West Orange, 37-year-old Arnaldo Echevarria of Somerset employed his girlfriend to manage the salon while she used the name and identification of a woman in Puerto Rico to obtain a Pennsylvania identification card, Fishman said.

Echevarria knew she and another employee were illegas, having run them through various law enforcement data bases, he said.

However, he “ensured that his girlfriend’s illegal status remained a secret by signing the lease for her apartment and by placing her cable and electric bills in his name,” Fishman said.

He drove her and other salon employees to and from work each day, paid them in cash and “never asked them to fill out employment eligibility paperwork,” he said.

Fishman credited special agents of ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility with the investigation, which led to charges of harboring an illegal alien and making false statements.

The case is being prosecuted Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal of Fishman’s Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

Echevarria was scheduled for an initial appearance and bail hearing this afternoon in federal court in Newark.

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