EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Ivis Orestes Irias-Romero drove from Houston to the Texas border city of Brownsville to pick up a Honduran woman who had entered the U.S. illegally in November 2020.
The two had met on Facebook four years prior, and Irias-Romero, 42, a Honduran migrant himself with legal permanent residency, decided to tell border authorities the woman was his wife.
On the night of Nov. 14, 2020, Irias-Romero and the woman approached the Border Patrol checkpoint near Sarita, Texas, about halfway between Brownsville and Corpus Christi.
Irias-Romero told U.S. Border Patrol agents he was from Honduras and presented his immigration card. When the woman was asked for her immigration status, she initially didn’t respond. That’s when Irias-Romero claimed she was his wife and produced a copy of a marriage license certificate.
Agents then questioned the woman in Spanish, at which point she admitted that she was a Honduran citizen unlawfully living in Houston.
Agents arrested Irias-Romero, who admitted the woman was not his wife and that he knew she was in the country illegally.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas announced that a federal jury convicted Irias-Romero of transporting an illegal alien.
During the trial, the woman testified that she had unsuccessfully tried several times to enter the U.S., before finally making it in November 2020, according to a news release. She said she then contacted Irias-Romero, who agreed to pick her up.
Irias-Romero himself testified that he was saving her from a hostage situation.
U.S. District Judge David Morales presided over the trial and set sentencing for July 14. Irias-Romero faces up to five years in prison and a possible maximum fine of $250,000.
Irias-Romero has been granted bond.