PORTLAND (AP) – A Massachusetts man accused of bringing an illegal immigrant to Maine to obtain a driver’s license awaits a bail hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Guilherme Malaquias, 23, of Newton, Mass., allegedly drove fellow Brazilian Marison Celante, 19, to Biddeford, where they were arrested March 20 at the U.S. Post Office.

Unlike most states, Maine requires neither proof of citizenship or proof of residency from license applicants. The Legislature is considering a rule change to require proof of residency.

Malaquias’ case is similar to that of a Brazilian from New Jersey who was arrested a month earlier at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Augusta after he allegedly brought two women to Maine to get driver’s licenses. According to court records, Anderson Dos Santos, 30, told officials that Maine is known among Brazilians for having lax rules for issuing licenses.

A federal immigration agent claims that Malaquias, whose tourist visa expired nearly two years ago, has allegedly transported other illegal immigrants on day trips from Massachusetts to Maine to get licenses.

Malaquias had obtained a license in November 2006, using a Biddeford post office box as an address, according to an affidavit filed by Brian Featheringham, a senior special agent with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit in Portland.

Celante, who was charged with immigration violations and faces deportation, said he got Malaquias’ name and cell phone number from his insurance company, and that Malaquias agreed to help for $2,000, according to the affidavit.

Malaquias faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted of transporting illegal immigrants for gain.

Don Cookson, spokesman for the Maine secretary of state’s office, said the state has already taken steps to crack down on fraud. He noted that a 2005 law made it illegal to use expired visas or other documents as proof of identification.

But Cookson noted that the measure now before lawmakers would check for residency in Maine, not for immigration status. He said it’s not the job of state workers to determine whether a person is in the U.S. legally.


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