Photo: El Salvadoran Army
A Massachusetts man was charged today in federal court with making false statements on immigration forms and committing perjury in order to remain in the United States. This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston.
Inocente Orlando Montano, 69, of Everett, Mass., was charged with one count of making false statements on an immigration application and one count of perjury.
According to documents submitted to the court, the government alleges that Montano, a citizen of El Salvador, received military training and served as an officer in the military of El Salvador from 1979 through 1991, a period of civil war in El Salvador. Montano also allegedly served as El Salvador’s vice-minister for public security from 1989 to 1992.
Several reports published in the early 1990’s documented human rights violations committed by the Salvadoran military during the civil war, including torture, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings and disappearances. Such reports allege that certain human rights abuses were committed by troops directly under Montano’s command. In 1994, Montano retired from the military, and at some point thereafter left El Salvador and eventually came to Massachusetts.
The document filed today also cites a United Nations Truth Commission Report finding that there was substantial evidence that Montano colluded with other Salvadoran military officers to issue an order that resulted in the murder of six Jesuit priests, an employee of the priests, and the employee’s daughter.
In or about 2002, Montano was present in the United States and, on several occasions thereafter, applied for and received temporary protected status (TPS), a benefit the U.S. government extends to certain foreign nationals, permitting them to remain in the United States if they are unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
To be eligible for TPS, a foreign national must submit to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security an application which requires, among other things, the applicant to reveal if he has ever received military training or served in the military.
The document specifically charges that Montano, in 2008, submitted a TPS application in which he falsely denied that he ever “served in, been a member of, assisted in, or participated in any military unit, paramilitary unit, police unit;” had “been a member of, assisted in, or participated in any group, unit, or organization of any kind in which you or other persons used any type of weapon against any person or threatened to do so;” or had ever “received any type of military, paramilitary, or weapons training.”
Montano faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each count.