Government Protects Foreign Criminal while U.S. Citizen Forced into Hiding
In February 2016, homeland security officials warned Elena Maria Lopez about the “dangerous man” she had married and sponsored into her country. Forced to flee her own home at gunpoint, Lopez already knew this.
Issuing a new warning, these Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) investigators urged Lopez to protect herself.
Lopez’s Dutch husband had admitted to marrying her for a green card, tried to kill her, repeatedly terrorized her to keep her quiet, lied about material facts to get his fiancé visa and green card, and should’ve been barred from entering the country in the first place because of large-scale criminal activities. Instead, he had bypassed a background check before permanently entering the country. Why? Because he was marrying an American.
Despite Erik Marcel Niehof’s clearly documented violence, criminal activities and fraud, the DHS gave a green card to someone the agency clearly identified as “a dangerous man.”
In March 2017, Lopez testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about her case with Senate attorneys claiming she had one of the most credible and well documented immigration fraud cases they’ve ever seen. (She hired a retired F.B.I. special agent for help during her divorce.) As an oversight committee, Judiciary staff attorneys have direct access to immigration files, which they used to corroborate Lopez’s evidence and testimony.
In April 2017, DHS staff confirmed the agency still refuses to open an investigation on her ex-husband – instead launching an investigation on the FDNS employees who warned Lopez. (The FDNS is an investigative agency within the DHS.)
In June 2017, the new DHS VOICE office – which was set up to protect the American victims of immigrants’ crimes – refused to get involved in order to protect her foreign ex-husband’s privacy rights.
Now divorced, Lopez lives in hiding. The State of New Jersey considers her situation to be so grave that it issued her a special protected address, something reserved for domestic violence victims in serious danger.
Lopez’s ex-husband remains eligible to renew his fraudulent green card or apply for U.S. citizenship, which he might have already attained.