Federal agents say Alianiss Morales had been living in Minnesota illegally, using a fake ID. She could eventually be deported, but not before she faces the vehicular homicide charges.
Today in court, the Lyon County attorney said federal immigration agents have determined that the real Alianiss Morales is from Puerto Rico where agents questioned her grandparents. They told them the woman arrested for causing the Cottonwood bus crash is not their granddaughter.
The suspect sat quietly in court on a wheelchair and told the judge, through an interpreter, that her real name was Alianiss Nunez Morales. A claim that federal immigration agents dispute. Claude Arnold of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement said, "Yesterday, our agents developed probable cause that Ms. Nunez-Morales is in the country illegally and that that is not her true identity."
As Morales faces vehicular homicide charges, federal agents have launched an investigation of their own, to determine just who she really is. Tim Counts of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement said, "We use fingerprints, we use photographs, we use databases, not only our databases but criminal databases from all other law enforcement agencies and perhaps the most effective tool is that we're very skilled at interviewing and determining somebody's legal status."
If Morales is found guilty of the traffic charges, she'd still serve her sentence in the United States. A federal immigration judge would then determine whether Morales will be deported, a process investigators say could take months, or even years.
Arnold said, "ICE is a full partner in this investigation of this tragedy and we'll do everything in our power to ensure that justice is served."
In court today, Morales said she has an aunt and cousins who live in the area. But the county attorney called her family ties to the area "sketchy."
He says she's been living in the Minneota area for only a month or less and considers her an "extreme flight risk." Morales will be back in court on in April.