David North's blog

What’s Wrong with EB-5? A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words

By David North, May 26, 2016

The photo highlighted in a recent article in The RealDeal, a New York-based real estate trade paper, speaks louder than words.

The EB-5 program is supposed to channel investment to depressed urban or rural areas. But Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and EB-5 reformers, say it provides too much capital to glitzy, downtown urban areas.

The news item, which would involve about 10 percent of a year's supply of EB-5 visas, neatly supports their position: Read more...

Soccer Camp Ignores Millions of Americans to Exploit H-1B Soccer Coaches

By David North, May 25, 2016

While Mitt Romney has suggested that marrying Donald Trump is a job Americans won't do (66.67 percent of his wives, to date, have been foreign-born), playing soccer does not fall into that category.

Wikipedia says that 24 million Americans were playing soccer in 2006, while another source, Statista, puts the number at 14.74 million in 2015. In short, millions and millions.

Let's assume that no more than one out of 500 of the players (0.2 percent) is good enough to coach others; using the Wikipedia numbers, we would still have 48,000 potential coaches. Using the other source there would be 29,480 potential soccer workers. If we assumed that 1 percent of the players were good enough to be coaches, there would be a work force of close to a quarter of a million to choose from. Read more...

Elon Musk's Name Is Mud in the Foreign Worker Field

By David North, May 23, 2016

Silicon Valley's highly regarded innovator Elon Musk — he of Tesla fame — turns out to be just another exploitative user of what I regard as illegal alien workers, according to a detailed expose by the San Jose Mercury News.

In this case, the workers are from Eastern Europe and they have been allowed by our lackadaisical State Department to use B-1 (business) visas to enter the United States to do manual labor building Tesla's factory to make electric cars. Such visas may be used for commercial activities such as signing agreements and training people in the use of foreign-produced machinery, but not for day-to-day construction work. Read more...

Another EB-5 Developer Sees His Assets Frozen by Court Order

By David North, May 19, 2016

Six days ago I wrote about a Florida/Vermont case in which an EB-5 developer's assets were frozen by court order.

Today's subject is a West Coast EB-5 middleman who is facing the same challenge. Life is never dull in the EB-5 cesspool. Read more...

EB-5 Funds Created Jobs, but Workers Were Not Paid

By David North, May 17, 2016

Here's a new wrinkle in the EB-5 business: An employer got millions in EB-5 funds to run a shrimp farm and then didn't pay its workers.

Does the business get credit for creating these jobs without paychecks? Do the investors get their green cards anyway? As you might imagine, answers are not readily available.

Florida Organic Aquaculture, a for-profit enterprise, is a 22-acre shrimp farm in Fellsmere, Fla., and is reported by one news account to be a $16 million project that involved an unstated, but apparently substantial, amount of EB-5 investments. Read more...

This Is Getting Monotonous – Third Indian-on-Indian H-1B Scandal in 12 Days

By David North, May 16, 2016

This is getting monotonous. On May 4 we reported a middle-sized case of H-1B fraud involving both the loss of jobs to U.S. residents and the exploitation of Indian workers by Indian criminal employers in Virginia.

On May 12 we wrote about a somewhat similar case in California, and today we have the third case in the set, this time in Memphis, Tenn. Three cases in 12 days, all in the federal courts.

This time the corrupt employer, Ramesh Basa, has pled out and has agreed that the feds can seize six pieces of his real estate valued at half a million dollars as part of the deal. The agreement also included a joint recommendation by attorneys on both sides of the case for a one-year jail term for Basa. Read more...

A Blundering Bad Guy in Vermont and Other EB-5 Notes

By David North, May 13, 2016

Multiple EB-5 developments — all discouraging for the program's backers — are coming hard and fast as the September 30 termination of the main part of the program looms. Read more...

Yet Another Indian-Exploits-Indian Case of H-1B Fraud

By David North, May 12, 2016

Last week one of my informants sent me an article headlined "US: 4 Indian-Americans charged with H-1B fraud".

Since I had written a blog post a few days earlier involving five Indian-Americans in a case of H-1B fraud, my initial assumption was that the headline writer simply had the wrong number of culprits.

It turned out, however, that the five earlier ones were in Virginia, while the four current ones were in California. Two completely separate cases, but with many of the same characteristics: Read more...

Problems with the Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor Programs

By David North, May 11, 2016

Last month we published 20 years of data on the E-1 (Treaty Trader) and E-2 (Treaty Investor) nonimmigrant programs. The tables, covering the years 1994 to 2013, show that the number of visas issued in the E-1 category dropped from over 11,000 a year to about 7,000, while issuances of E-2 visas moved in the opposite direction, from about 19,000 to about 35,000 a year. Data for 2104 show E-1 visas at 7,330 and E-2 visas at 36,825. Read more...

DHS Uses WW II to Open the Gates for More Aging Filipinos

By David North, May 11, 2016

One of the hidden specialties of the U.S. immigration system is the way it facilitates the immigration of aliens deep into, or beyond, their working lives.

The country-of-origin limits on immigration, coupled with high demand from some nations such as the Philippines, means that many migrants have been waiting for 20 years or more – and are thus about 20 years older than the average migrant when they finally arrive in the U.S. You can imagine what this does to the welfare costs.

I was reminded of this by a Homeland Security press release proclaiming: Read more...

DHS Excels at Locking the Barn Door Long after the Horse Has Been Stolen

By David North, May 9, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security has shown, once again, that it is very good at locking the barn door, not only after the horse has been stolen, but long after the stolen horse has died of old age. In short, it occasionally takes appropriate action, but years — even decades — too late.

The latest example comes from America's far, far West, the Island of Tinian, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, just north of Guam in the Pacific. That is the location of the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino; the casino has been closed for several months, and the adjacent hotel is operating, but just barely. Read more...

A Romantic Start that Turned into a $20 Million H-1B Fraud Case

By David North, May 4, 2016

The feds charge that $20 million was obtained fraudulently in an immigration scheme that involved hundreds of Asians, and that part of the scam involved a geographic area that our government has ruled to be economically depressed.

Sounds like another EB-5 scandal, right?

Wrong! Most of the money, according to an indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia, came out of the H-1B program, with lesser sums being obtained from Small Business Administration benefits.

The whole thing started out on what I — if not the feds — regard as a romantic moment. Read more...

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...