September 28, 2021

Ruling protects illegal immigrants using fake documents to obtain work

Days after being arrested on identity theft charges, a local woman might find relief in a new ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court.

According to an Osceola Police report, Conception Montanyo-Garcia, 50, 116 N. Adams St., admitted to obtaining false identification papers two years ago and using the documents to gain employment at Southern Hills Specialty Care Center.

Montanyo-Garcia was charged with identity theft over $10,000 12:17 a.m. Thursday, June 1, at the Law Enforcement Center and posted bond on Friday, the day after a landmark case in immigration law in Iowa set the stage for the charges to be dropped.

The case, State of Iowa vs. Martha Aracely Martinez, centered on Martinez, a woman brought to the United States illegally at age 11, and who later gained protection under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama Administration’s immigration policy granting temporary clemency to certain illegal residents in the U.S.

After the approval of her application, Martinez applied for a driver’s license in her real name. The application was flagged for potential fraud activity when her photo matched that of her illegally obtained driver’s license, and Martinez was charged with identity theft. Ultimately, the Iowa Supreme Court decided federal immigration law trumps state charges for illegals trying to gain employment, and the charges against Martinez were dropped.

Local officials are not certain of Montanyo-Garcia’s legal status. However, she came to their attention after an out-of-state resident called in with complaints.

“They’ve been receiving notices from the IRS that they owed taxes on wages from here,” said Osceola Police Chief Martin Duffus.

“In this particular case, it’s my understanding this individual had appropriate ID,” said Director of Marketing for Care Initiatives, the parent company of Southern Hills, Jason Bridie. “I don’t think there were any red flags.”

The care center worked with officers and helped determine Montanyo-Garcia was using the name and social security number of the real Maria Velasquez of Philidelphia, PA. If Montanyo-Garcia is in the U.S. illegally, the court decision might have a big impact on her case—or whether she’ll be prosecuted at all.

“We’ve charged her with what we can charge her,” said Duffus. “According to the Iowa Supreme Court, we’re supposed to send that on to immigration. We’ve done that, but I’m not sure if they’re going to do anything with it.”

“I will say, I firmly disagree with the ruling,” he said.