Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Florida Marlins pitcher Leo Nunez Lied about his Identity - May be Removable

NPR has reported that Florida Marlins pitcher Leo Nunez has admitted that he is not Leo Nunez.  His real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo.  When he was 17, Mr. Oviedo assumed the identity of his then 16-year-old friend Leo Nunez for financial gain because in the Dominican Republic 16-year-old baseball players are more favorably compensated than 17-year-olds.

Nunez/Oviedo recently came clean about his true identity when applying for naturalization in order to be able to bring his family to the United States.

So the first question is: did the act of using the assumed name Leo Nunez when applying for a visa render Juan Carlos Oviedo inadmissible to the United States.  

I would argue no.  

If Juan Carlos Oviedo assumed the name Leo Nunez prior to applying for a visa to come to the United States, and if he was commonly known in the Dominican Republic as Leo Nunez, I would argue that he did not commit a fraud in his visa application that would have rendered him inadmissible.  Moreover, if Juan Carlos Ovideo was otherwise admissible to the United States had he used his birth name when applying for his visa  I would argue that his failure to disclose was not a material misrepresentation. 

So the next question we must ask is whether Juan Carlos Ovideo was otherwise admissible to the United States at the time of his initial visa application.  I would assume the answer to this question is yes.

The issue still remains whether Juan Carlos Oviedo's failure to disclose his true name when applying for adjustment of status once inside the United States constitutes a fraud that would subject him to removal.

I would make the same arguments above, but from past experience I can tell you that if Juan Carlos Ovideo was not a rich and famous baseball player he would be served with a Notice to Appear seeking to take away his Green Card.

Mr. Ovideo is a rich and famous baseball player, however, and as we all know the rules aren't always applied uniformly.

I am VERY curious to see how this one plays out.

Click here to listen to the NPR report.

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