David North's blog

Some Minor Good News on Visa Mills — Accrediting Official Leaves Job

By David North, May 2, 2016

One must search with a magnifying glass, but sometimes there is good news on the immigration front. Here is an example.

As background: Some schools that have been charged with being visa mills — letting illegal aliens into the country in return for tuition payments — have been accredited by an organization essentially licensed by the U.S. Department of Education to be an accreditor. This entity is the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). Read more...

Open Letter to Governors: Don't Go Overseas for EB-5 — It Might Backfire

By David North, May 1, 2016

To: America's Governors and other Elected Officials

From: David North, Center for Immigration Studies

Re: Warning: Overseas Travel to Promote EB-5 Investments Can Be Risky

The invitations look attractive — a trip to China or Vietnam, a place you have never been, all at the cost of either the EB-5 promoters or the state business development budget. All you have to do is appear at an event or two to promote the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program, and you will surely get a nice trip; and maybe you will bring some investment-created jobs to your state.

The big problem is that many EB-5 investments turn out to be disasters for the investors and for everyone connected, directly or indirectly, with them. And it can happen to pols in both parties. Read more...

Immigration/Marriage Fraud Indictments and Chain Migration

By David North, April 29, 2016

If it had not been for the terrorist shootings in San Bernardino, CA, an immigration/marriage fraud situation would probably have gone unnoticed by the authorities.

But because of the killings by Syed Rizwan Farook and the woman he brought to the United States as his alien bride, Tashfeen Malik, the fraudulent marriage between Farook's friend, Enrique Marquez Jr., and Mariya Chernykh has now — months later — led to yesterday's immigration fraud indictments against the three people in the middle of the chart below: Read more...

Artificial Human Organs and the Vermont EB-5 Scandal

By David North, April 25, 2016

Building ski lodges is a relatively old, relatively low-tech activity, but the EB-5 promoters in Vermont, now subject to court action, were also proposing to build a state-of-the-art medical facility to manufacture artificial human organs.

The organs were to be developed in the rural reaches of northern Vermont, near the Canadian border, in an area not known for high-tech medical work.

Other aspects of this now-exposed Vermont scandal involved the apparent theft of $50 million, as we reported earlier. Read more...

Ivy Leaguer Bounced, but H-1Bs Keep Jobs in Industry Layoff

By David North, April 22, 2016

One of the reasons our rulers are rarely worried about foreign worker programs is that such programs never adversely impact them, their relatives, or their college classmates.

If you are in Congress or one of the big foundations or universities, the likelihood is that no one you know personally ever lost a job to an under-paid foreign farm worker or had their wages reduced by a contractor's use of H-2B temporary workers. And if you can't identify with the victims, it is hard for you to see — as you should — that something is very wrong. Read more...

When to Blow the Whistle in an EB-5 Fraud Case?

By David North, April 20, 2016

If authorities hear about a murder or terrorist attack plot, they move immediately to prevent people from being killed.

But what should the authorities do when they become suspicious of an embezzlement in the works? Move in immediately to prevent the loss of more money, and in the rush risk losing the case against the bad guys – or let it play out till all the facts are in order and no innocent victims, like carpenters on the building site, are hurt.

This is the dilemma that faced the state of Vermont and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the huge EB-5 scandal that emerged in that state last week. Here are five considerations: Read more...

Rabid Bobcats, a Rural Hospital, and EB-5 Funding

By David North, April 19, 2016

This particular EB-5 conflict is between folks who want to protect us against rabid bobcats, on one hand, and the green-eyeshade types at USCIS, on the other; it is rural health providers vs. urban regulators, and my initial sympathies are with the former, but it is more complicated than that. Read more...

DHS Silent While $50 million in EB-5 Funds Stolen Over Seven Years

By David North, April 18, 2016

For a period of at least seven years, the Department of Homeland Security either did not know about the theft of $50 million in its Vermont EB-5 program, a sign of remarkable incompetence, or knew about it and did nothing about it, a sign of something worse.

The loss of these moneys in a well-honed Ponzi scheme was announced last week by the Securities and Exchange Commission — once again riding to the rescue — and by chagrined officials of the State of Vermont, as we reported at the time.

As of Sunday, DHS had — perhaps understandably — issued no statements on the disaster to the program, which is like the Titanic's owners saying nothing after its sinking. Read more...

And Lo, the Ground Opened Before Him!

By David North, April 18, 2016

The Border Patrol continues to discover tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border in, shall we say, a low-tech manner.

The most recent Border Patrol press release on the discovery of a tunnel said, in effect, that one of its agents encountered the tunnel when the ground opened up before him, or to quote the release:

As the agent approached the anomaly [a depression] in the soil on foot, it began to give way exposing a hole 18 inches in diameter.

Chicago Case Underlines the Two Iron Rules of Immigration-Related Fraud

By David North, April 15, 2016

There are two iron rules of immigration-related fraud:

  1. If someone violates the immigration law they are likely to violate other laws, too.
  2. Fraud is often inflicted on later arrivals by earlier arrivals from the same country.

A recent case in Chicago was exactly in line with these two rules. Richard and Maribel Tinimbang, descendants of Filipino immigrants, charged with swindling $45 million in Medicare funds, were also charged with immigration fraud in connection with their effort to obtain forced household labor from a new arrival from the Philippines. Read more...

Body Blow for EB-5 – Millions Stolen from Projects in Vermont

By David North, April 14, 2016

The EB-5 program received a major body blow today. Projects in Vermont have been regarded as pure as driven snow, but now it turns out that one of the major players misused $50 million, which, among other things, allowed him to purchase a luxury condominium in Manhattan's Trump Place. Read more...

Senate Committee Hears About Gerrymandering in the EB-5 Program

By David North, April 14, 2016

It's always aggravating when watching a congressional hearing to find that the very best of the witnesses is arguing for the point of view that is exactly opposite to your own. Read more...

Technology vs. the Border Patrol

By David North, April 13, 2016

Although the Border Patrol has many expensive, often high-tech tools at its disposal — drones, helicopters, tethered balloons, and fixed-wing planes in the air and an impressive array of sensors and alarm systems on the ground — it is obvious that sometimes technology helps the other side.

Here are some examples:

Their Drones. Ominously, the Border Patrol reported earlier this month that smugglers' drones, usually two to four feet wide, are being used to ferry drugs from Mexico to the United States. Read more...

Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) Visas

By David North, April 12, 2016

While there have been news stories and congressional hearings on EB-5 visas (the immigrant investor program), a roughly comparable program that brings in about four times as many aliens has drawn virtually no attention.

This is the Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) program. It provided nonimmigrant visas for more than 42,000 aliens in 2013, the last year for which we have statistics. Unlike the EB-5 program, it offers only temporary visas for traders and investors, and unlike the EB-5 program its growth in recent years has been steady, but not dramatic. Read more...

In an Unusual Burst of Creativity, ICE Sets Up a Successful Visa Mill Sting

By David North, April 5, 2016

In an unusual and commendable move, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) established a phony visa mill, created a network of recruiters for it, and then arrested 21 of the conspirators yesterday.

ICE established the totally imaginary University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ), which was described to recruiters of foreign students as having no classes, and then watched as these recruiters (for a fee) enrolled "students" in the scheme. Since the whole enterprise was known as a fraud to everyone concerned — recruiters, brokers, "students", and some employers of the "students" — all were clearly participating in illegal activity. Read more...

Trump Brings Up Question of Remittances to Mexico

By David North, April 5, 2016

In his usual oafish way, Donald Trump has brought a usually ignored aspect of immigration economics to the fore: the outward flow of remittances to Mexico and other nations, and how those transfer payments harm the American economy.

Trump has proposed to block all such transfers to Mexico until Mexico agrees to pony up $5 billion to build his wall. He sets the amount at about $25 billion a year to Mexico; about an equal amount goes to other nations.

While it is useful that The Donald has raised the remittances issue, he has used a sledgehammer when a more precise tool would be more effective. Read more...

Finally: Criminal Charges Filed in the South Dakota EB-5 Scandal

By David North, April 1, 2016

Finally, after years and years of avoiding the issue, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) has filed a handful of criminal charges against the former state official in charge of the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program, Joop Bollen, according to an account in the Rapid City Journal by Seth Tupper. Read more...

Danger: Avalanche of EB-5 Petitions May Prompt Calls for Program Expansion

By David North, March 31, 2016

Nervous Chinese millionaires and multi-millionaires, sensing that the rock-bottom level of investment now set by the U.S. government for a handful of immigrant visas ($500,000) is about to increase, have, along with others, filed enough EB-5 petitions to meet the program's ceiling for five years to come.

It is the Obama administration's dream come true — there is so much demand for these visas that it can now argue for an expansion of the program beyond the decades-long ceiling of 10,000 visas a year. Read more...

SEC Cleans Up Two EB-5 Messes in One Week

By David North, March 30, 2016

The Securities and Exchange Commission, once again, has galloped onto the scene to clean up messes created by the ever-messy EB-5 (immigrant investor) program — this time handing down orders on two different cases within a few days of each other in the week of March 21.

It ordered one set of middlemen, in Florida, to disgorge about $3.2 million in ill-gotten EB-5 fees; in a Washington State case, it consented to a settlement in which an EB-5 lawyer agreed to pay the Commission $278,169 in disgorgement, interest, and penalties.

In both cases the parties had acted as unregistered broker-dealers; one might think that professionals handling multi-million dollar EB-5 deals would know better, but that was not the case. The EB-5 program gives sets of green cards to investors (for the alien, the spouse, and all their children under 21) who provide DHS-licensed regional centers with half-million-dollar investments. Read more...

The H-1B Program Facilitates Blatant Racial Discrimination

By David North, March 29, 2016

Suppose there was a large, U.S. government-operated program that permitted U.S. employers to hire nothing but White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) college-graduate men between the ages of 22 and 30.

Suppose that program, more narrowly, allowed major U.S. employers to discriminate in favor of descendants of men who had graduated from an Ivy League College before World War II. (After WWII the Ivy League dropped its restrictive admissions practices.) Read more...

The EB-5 Program Continues to Be a Bonanza for Litigating Lawyers

By David North, March 28, 2016

Never let it be said that the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program does not create jobs in the American economy.

It may not do much for factory workers or hotel employees, but it is a bonanza for lawyers, and yet another expensive legal dispute came into view recently. Read more...

U.S. Immigration Policy as a 10-Layer Cake with Cuban Frosting

By David North, March 25, 2016

If you were a creature from outer space, complete with really good computational skills, and you were examining U.S. immigration policy, you would find that our policy resembles a 10-layer cake, coated with a Cuban frosting.

While immigration law sometimes applies equally to aliens from all nations, as in the case of a U.S. citizen seeking a visa for an alien spouse, different rules often apply to different kinds of migrants from different countries, in a maze of complications. This blog post is an effort to illustrate how the total set of migration rules impacts different nations. (In some cases a nation will appear in two or more layers, and some of the layers will be much more populated than others.) Read more...

Where's the Free French Model Among Europe's Refugees?

By David North, March 23, 2016

Turkey may, similarly, be induced by European money to play a similar role in the near future.

The quotation above was part of a blog post late last year in which I suggested that maybe in the future Europeans would follow our example and hire Turkey to block the path of migrants to Europe, as we seem to have done with Mexico in connection with the Central Americans, if not the Cubans. That has come to pass. Read more...

Ebola Crisis Is Over, But TPS Is Extended for Three Nations Anyway

By David North, March 22, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security, which routinely extends Temporary Protected Status (TPS, a form of amnesty) for 18-month periods, today extended it for only six months for three West African nations where Ebola had been active in the recent past.

My sense is that DHS, feeling that the rationale for creating TPS in the first place in those nations was weak then and is considerably weaker now, compromised between the usual full-throated extension and none at all by cutting the renewal period to six months. Read more...

EB-5 Notes: A Court Case, OIG Reminders, and a N.Y. Times Review

By David North, March 18, 2016

There's a lot going on in the usually shuttered world of the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program. There is an intriguing new court case, reminders by the DHS inspector general that the program has not taken basic steps for reform laid out years ago, and a sober New York Times review of the whole scene. Read more...

The Population Growth Nuances of Our Immigration Policies

By David North, March 17, 2016

Many of our public leaders on both the left and right are not only for increasing legal immigration, some of them (Hillary Clinton, for example) seem opposed to any enforcement of the immigration law except in the case of violent criminals.

There is also a series of more nuanced (and often not recognized) policies in the immigration field that push us in the same way to have ever-increasing crowds of people in the United States. It is useful to at least enumerate some of these nuances. Read more...

H-1B Worker Driven Deep into Poverty Sues Employer

By David North, March 16, 2016

The H-1B worker wanted a few days off work so that he could visit his dying father in India; his employer (a fellow Indian) said not until you give me $300.

The H-1B did not have the money so he never saw his father alive again. Or so one side argues in federal court.

At a time when a lot of H-1B controversies deal with whether the worker should get $90,000 a year rather than $70,000 it is a splash of cold water to the face to encounter an H-1B conflict where real poverty is involved. Read more...

DHS Gets Less Data on EB-5 Middlemen than Amex Does on Card Holders

By David North, March 16, 2016

Suppose you want a formal license from the U.S. government that allows you to raise tens of millions of dollars in investments through a government-promoted program that makes aliens into green card holders, a program in which you, the middleman, can levy fees on the aliens without limit?

Suppose, on the other hand, you want a credit card?

Which application do you suppose asks more personal questions of the applicant, the one for the fraud-plagued EB-5 immigrant investor program or for the credit card? Here is the full list of all the personal questions asked in these two programs: Read more...

If the EB-5 Developer Can't Count the Zeroes, Look for Another Broker

By David North, March 15, 2016

An as example of how slipshod some EB-5 offers can be, here's a developer who has run an uncorrected proposal on the Internet for weeks that manages to confuse $1.575 billion with $157.5 million. The EB-5 program offers a family-sized set of green cards to aliens ponying up $500,000 investments.

The proposal sounds, at first, to be interesting: Read more...

Big Tax Breaks for Controversial DHS-Licensed School for Indian Migrants

By David North, March 10, 2016

Here are five different views of a single, controversial educational institution that majors in students from India — the Northwestern Polytechnic University of Fremont, Calif.:

  • The venerable Times of India calls it a "massive academic rip-off";

  • Slightly more charitably, India's Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj, tweeted that NPU and another, somewhat similar institution, Silicon Valley University, "are not blacklisted, but they are not reputed either."