David North's blog

One of the Offstage Problems of EB-5 — It Lets the Sharks Fleece the Naive

By David North, July 28, 2016

Sometimes a financial program can do substantial damage to individual victims without the program's operators doing anything wrong — and EB-5 is a good example.

The mere presence of the program — offering, as it does, green cards to aliens who invest in the United States — can wreak havoc without any direct complicity from politicians or government officials. That's one of the reasons Congress should not interfere with the scheduled sunset of the major part of the program on September 30. Read more...

Two Clarifications Emerge on Anti-Citizen Food Stamp Discrimination Issue

By David North, July 26, 2016

Two clarifications have emerged recently on the matter of discrimination in favor of certain mixed families, including aliens, in the food stamp eligibility rules. Read more...

A Suggestion: Handling Erdogan’s Request for Gulen’s Extradition

By David North, July 21, 2016

Turkey’s autocratic president, Recep Erdogan, wants us to extradite Fethullah Gulen, the Muslim cleric and cult leader now living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, for allegedly stirring up the recent coup attempt.

Meanwhile, one of Erdogan’s emissaries, a little earlier, advocated the termination of the practice of bringing Turkish teachers to the United States, on H-1B visas, to replace U.S. teachers in the Gulen charter high schools. Read more...

A Crime in Progress? Immigration/Marriage Fraud and Chain Migration

By David North, July 20, 2016

Chain migration, unfortunately, is not only quite legal in the United States (but less so in other nations), it drives most of our immigration numbers.

Meanwhile, immigration/related marriage fraud (which is the subject of less enforcement here than elsewhere), is totally illegal but a lesser force in immigration numbers.

All too often these forces move together. Read more...

Buying Visas and Creating an EB-5 Victims’ Assistance Program

By David North, July 18, 2016

Two recent events have cast new light on old problems with the EB-5 program.

In one, a couple charged with swindling their EB-5 clients spoke the grim truth about the program – its investors are really buying visas, not seeking financial gain.

In the other, we saw the invention of a brand-new government program to protect victims – in this case those innocents suffering collateral damage from EB-5 fraud.

The locales were California and Vermont, respectively. Read more...

Overseas Distribution of Social Security Recipients Reflects Old Patterns

By David North, July 14, 2016

More than 613,000 Social Security recipients have retired overseas, usually after working for decades in the United States.

Their distribution is a reflection of former – not current – migration patterns as we see in this, another of our notes on emigration from the United States. (View an earlier posting about some U.S. students getting part of their education abroad). Read more...

New Legal Tool, Qui Tam, is used in Florida EB-5 Case

By David North, July 13, 2016

A new legal tool has been unveiled against a Florida EB-5 user by a once-fired employee of the lumber mill in question.

The former employee has filed a Qui Tam case in federal court seeking to recover losses suffered by the federal government. To the best of my knowledge this is the first use of this legal tool in the EB-5 business. Read more...

Rich EB-5 Investors Get Undue Attention From USCIS Ombudsman Office

By David North, July 12, 2016

Here’s a government agency with millions of clients, mostly low-income, mostly with limited to no English.

The agency rarely allows interviews between those seeking benefits and decision-makers. It routinely relies on forms, written in English, when making its decisions.

The agency (USCIS) has established a special office (that of the omsbudsman) to help the low-income, marginally literate portion of the migrant population it serves to wend its way through these obstacles, a perfectly appropriate move. Read more...

Court Rules that Another Vermont EB-5 Project was Corrupt

By David North, July 12, 2016

A Vermont state court has ruled that another failed EB-5 project in the state was corrupt, not just a financial disaster.

This is in addition to the big failure and multi-million dollar swindle in the Jay Peak ski lodge and at an associated medical laboratory that has caused so much controversy and press coverage, as we noted earlier. Read more...

Pow! Bam! Sock! Vermonters Again Collect Swiftly in Migration Fraud Case

By David North, July 11, 2016

Maybe it’s in the milk they drink, but yet again we have a case of Vermonters moving swiftly to collect cash for prior immigration violations.

We reported recently that the State of Vermont had sued Raymond James, the brokerage firm, for its part in the recently revealed EB-5 disaster, and had collected, in a matter of a few weeks, nearly $6 million of the $24 million or so that had been lost. Read more...

Would You Buy a North Korean Used Car from This EB-5 Promoter?

By David North, July 6, 2016

There are plenty of bizarre business notions in the EB-5 program, but this one wins the Oscar for creativity.

The idea: Let's use $630,000 of an EB-5 investor's money to buy and ship 100 used cars from North Korea to an about-to-be-formed southern California car dealership. (Given North Korea's poverty, perhaps used cars are cheap there.) Read more...

Legislature Does Right Thing on Alien Marriage Issue – WaPo Misses It

By David North, July 5, 2016

The Virginia Legislature took an important step toward reducing green card-producing, abusive marriages of young female citizens — and the Washington Post missed the migration point completely in a July 3 article about the legislation.

Encouraged by a tiny Virginia lobbying group, both parties in the GOP-controlled state legislature set the minimum age for marriage at 18 under most circumstances, and at 16 with a court order. Previously the minimum age was "13 or younger ... if she had parental consent and was pregnant", according to the Post. Read more...

Vermont Quickly Recovers $6 million in EB-5 losses; South Dakota Dawdles

By David North, July 5, 2016

Only weeks after the disclosure of some $25 million (or more) in EB-5 losses, the state of Vermont has already recovered a quarter of that figure. South Dakota, whose EB-5 losses probably exceed $100 million, incurred years ago, has barely started its tiny, seemingly reluctant efforts to recover a mere $1 million or so of its losses.

Both states are (or were) Department of Homeland Security-designated regional centers in the immigrant investor program, which provides a family-sized set of green cards to aliens placing half-million-dollar investments in DHS-approved, but not guaranteed, projects. Both states found that multi-millions of investor funds (and smaller amounts of state funds) had been swindled, wasted, or lost. And the states have the powers of both regional centers and of state governments to begin the process of recovering at least some of those funds. Read more...

Nepotism Reigns in Labor Department Appellate Body

By David North, July 4, 2016

Tired of waiting for those family preferences in the immigration system?

Is your brother willing to work in the kitchen of the family's restaurant business?

If the answers are both yes, just ask the Department of Labor to issue a decision leading to a green card for that relative, and his immigration problems are solved — and another resident of this country is denied a job. Read more...

Brexit Byproducts

By David North, June 30, 2016

Alongside the expected major geo-political and economic consequences of Brexit, which would have caused me to, painfully, cast a "remain" vote were I a British citizen, there are a number of interesting migration by-products.

The obvious one is that the UK government will now be able to limit migration from the European Union, just like almost all the other nations of the world. My colleagues and I at CIS have long warned about the negative consequences of making immigration policy by treaty and now the British public has decided to get out of the European treaties because, among other things, it denies the UK the right to control migration from other EU nations. Read more...

A Plethora of Inside Information Is Available from China on EB-5 Scams

By David North, June 28, 2016

What are the primarily Chinese investors in the EB-5 program being told about the promoters' offers in Mandarin? EB-5 is the government's immigrant investor program that provides sets of green cards to families who make half-million-dollar investments in government-approved, but not guaranteed, business ventures.

To what extent are these investors misinformed, sometimes criminally, and to what extent is DHS paying attention to this aspect of the program? (We know that the EB-5 unit has one or more Mandarin speakers in it, but is that enough?) Read more...

A Full Page on the Migrant as a Hero – and a Misleading Bit of Journalism

By David North, June 21, 2016

Sunday's Washington Post carried more than a full page of coverage on a woman from Sierra Leone and her retail store — the top half of the Style section's first page was entirely covered by her photo, and there was a substantial amount of text on that page, and then another half page of text and pictures on the second page. Rarely does a previously unknown person get this kind of attention.

It dealt with her store and her adventures with the Department of Homeland Security (which we will get to in a minute), but totally missed what should have been a major element of her story.

The woman, Desiree Venn Frederick, has an extremely rare immigration distinction, which the Post either deliberately ignored or did not know about — though it would be totally visible from the text to the careful reader. Read more...

Feds Move Against Accrediting Council That OK'd Visa Mills

By David North, June 20, 2016

We reported earlier that an accrediting organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education — one that routinely has given favorable notices to institutions run by visa sharks — has run into trouble and might be put out of business this year. Read more...

SEC Lays $1 Million Fine on a Major EB-5 Player

By David North, June 16, 2016

Ever the cop on the EB-5 beat, the Securities and Exchange Commission has levied a $1 million fine on one of the biggest and longest-established entities in the EB-5 business — American Life, Inc., and its president, Henry G. Liebman.

Liebman was also fined $240,000, according to the SEC document that is the record of an agreement between the federal agency and American Life and its leader. This is a civil penalty and the civil version of a plea deal. Read more...

Governments Offer Grants to Employers for Jobs, But H-1Bs Get Them

By David North, June 15, 2016

Here's a story about how H-1B employers rip off state and federal agencies by using grants and other programs designed to create jobs for residents to instead create jobs for H-1B workers.

And the story is not coming to us from big media, but from smaller papers like the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer and the Danville (Va.) Register Bee.

According to the Observer's Deon Roberts: Read more...

The Migration of the Rich — and Nervous — Chinese

By David North, June 14, 2016

If Emma Lazarus were alive today, and paying attention to the most recent wave of migrants to the United States — wealthy Chinese — she might write:

Give me your rich,
your lawyered masses,
yearning to breathe free.

These movements from China run exactly contrary to one of the fundamental rules of international migration: Routinely the elite do not migrate, since things are going very well at home, thank you. So why — and how — are so many wealthy Chinese trying to migrate to the United States, or in many cases, trying to see to it that their children can do so? Read more...

Inevitable: Alleged EB-5 Fraudster Already Has a Third Nation's Citizenship

By David North, June 13, 2016

It had to happen. One of the alleged fraudsters involved in an EB-5 scandal in the United States has also purchased an additional citizenship in another nation.

We reported a few days ago that Charles Liu and his wife, Lisa Wang, were exposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission as diverters of $18 million in EB-5 investments involving a cancer treatment center in Southern California. They sent the money to their own bank accounts and to three companies in China rather than building the medical center. Read more...

Emigration Note: The Two-Way Movements of College Students

By David North, June 10, 2016

Those of us who write about migration — from all points of view — tend to focus all our thoughts on immigration. We often tend to forget that migration is a two-way street, with at least some people going in both directions.

To fill that gap there will be, from time to time, these emigration notes on people leaving the country for reasons other than tourism. Today, look at the international movements of college-age people, as they arrive in the United States and as they leave. Read more...

DOL $100 Million Training Grant Plays into H-1B Employers' Bogus Claims

By David North, June 9, 2016

The Department of Labor has announced that it is using $100 million in H-1B fees to train workers so that fewer H-1B workers will be needed (that last verb should be in quotation marks) in the future.

Sounds like good news, right?

Wrong! For two reasons: Read more...

Pro-Amnesty GOP House Member Loses with Less Than 25 Percent of the Vote

By David North, June 8, 2016

In an odd primary contest, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, who had cast an odd vote (for a Republican) in favor of amnesty, lost to another sitting GOP member in North Carolina on Tuesday. So far in this election year, she is the first Republican House member to lose a primary. Read more...

F-1 to OPT to H-1B to Green Card-by-Marriage to Murder

By David North, June 6, 2016

One of the irritating aspects of the American press is its routine refusal to report in any detail on the immigration status of prominent criminals.

Take the recent case of Mainak Sarkar, an apparently thin-skinned and mentally unbalanced citizen of India who first killed his estranged wife, a U.S. citizen whose marriage to him made him a green card carrier, and then, a week or so ago, shot the university professor who helped him overcome what sounds like a marginal dissertation to secure his PhD. Subsequently Sarkar killed himself, according to the Associated Press. Read more...

EB-5 Problems Proliferate – Here are Three New Ones

By David North, June 6, 2016

I was about to write a posting about two new black eyes suffered by the EB-5 program when a third, and much more significant body blow, appeared on the wire. All are California-based.

The latest news item is that the Securities and Exchange Commission has, yet again, sought to heal a nasty situation that the Department of Homeland Security allowed to fester.

This one involves the raising of $27 million for the support of a cancer center in southern California that would, the promoters said, use proton therapy on patients and create 4,500 new jobs. The EB-5 money, however, did not produce even the start of a building. What it did do was add $7 million to the accounts of Charles C. Liu and his wife, the EB-5 promoters, while another $11 million was sent off to three firms in China. Read more...

How 10 Patels and Nine Others Failed to Beat the Immigration Law

By David North, June 3, 2016

This is an immigration fraud story played out in unlikely place, Mississippi, and in which 10 people named Patel and their nine co-conspirators (including six or seven U.S. citizens) failed in their efforts to secure green cards for 11 aliens from India.

In one sense the conspirators, led by Sachin Girishkumar Patel, were creative, as they used two quite different fraudulent approaches to green card status.

But in another way, the conspirators lacked finesse. Read more...

Three Excellent Examples of Investigative Journalism on Migration Topics

By David North, June 2, 2016

There has been all too little investigative reporting regarding immigration matters, but there were two remarkable exceptions to that last month, and a third late last year.

These three long, well researched articles dealt with scandals in a huge California visa mill, multiple problems in the EB-5 program, and in the H-2B program for temporary alien non-agricultural workers, perhaps the most ignored of the migration trouble spots. Read more...

Man Bites Dog: Turkey Says Do Not Hire Turkish Teachers for U.S. Schools

By David North, May 31, 2016

Usually when a foreign government intervenes in the U.S. labor market it is either to protect the interests of individual foreign workers or to see to it that the United States keeps hiring them in general.

But Turkey, through its lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, has just issued a statement saying that a group of Turkish-run charter schools in the United States has been using an American visa scheme:

that places under-qualified Turkish teachers into key positions in its schools, while simultaneously underpaying its more qualified non-Turkish teachers.