September 12, 2016
A House of Representatives bill (H.R. 5992) on the immigrant investor program (EB-5) surfaced Friday and is due to be marked up (i.e., discussed and perhaps changed) in committee on Wednesday, September 14.
The signs are that a neater, cleaner and much better EB-5 program will emerge if this bill, or something like, it is passed. It was introduced by the Republican chairman and the ranking Democrat of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.). Read more...
September 9, 2016
Distressing new statistical information — from the government itself — paints an unattractive picture of the population of "abused" spouses claiming green card status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
As we noted in a previous blog post, the number of spouses successfully claiming these benefits almost tripled between FY 2013 and FY 2014, going from 3,318 to 8,706.
In each case the alien, usually a woman, married a U.S. citizen or green card holder and later persuaded the government that the U.S. resident was abusive — hence an automatic green card for the alien in question. Read more...
September 8, 2016
In his recent immigration policy speech, delivered a few hours after his visit with the president of Mexico, Donald Trump said that his emphasis for immigration law enforcement would be on criminal aliens and (presumably secondarily) on visa abusers.
Bearing in mind that the candidate switches his positions from time to time, and the strong possibility that the distinction between visa abusers and those entering without inspection (EWIs) may be fuzzy to him, as it is to most Americans, let's look at his focus on visa abusers. Read more...
September 7, 2016
New data from the Department of Homeland Security shows a highly worrisome increase in the number of green cards issued to aliens (almost always alien women) who have successfully claimed that their (usually new) U.S. citizen spouses abused them.
Everyone is concerned about abusive spouses, but I find it highly unlikely that the actual incidence of spousal abuse among citizen-alien couples tripled between 2013 and 2014. What is much more likely is that the sleepy people at USCIS have turned a blind eye to a growing trend of fraudulent use of a provision in immigration law that allows an abused spouse to secure a green card largely on her unsupported testimony that her new citizen (or green card) spouse has been abusive to her. Read more...
September 2, 2016
This is a story about a questionable, immigration-related sleight of hand within New York's Trump Tower, and about high fashion, but it has very little to do with The Donald (who lives there) and nothing to do with alien fashion models allegedly working for his model agency while in illegal status in the past.
Nor does it deal with the question of Mrs. Trump's immigration status when she first came to New York City as a fashion model, which John Miano and I wrote about in previous blog posts. Read more...
August 31, 2016
Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), both members of the Senate's loose-borders Gang of Eight, won primary races yesterday against more conservative opponents, Rubio convincingly and McCain handily.
Rubio, who has a career grade of C- from NumbersUSA, got 72 percent of the primary vote. McCain, with a career grade of D, received 52 percent. Both were running against three opponents. Both senators face Democratic opponents in the fall, both of whom are sitting members of the House. They are Rep. Pat Murphy in Florida (career grade of D-) and the somewhat more formidable Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona (career grade of D). Read more...
August 29, 2016
There apparently are so many rule-breaking lawyers in the EB-5 business that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) goes after them in batches.
On August 24, SEC announced that it had penalized three of them, all for failing to secure a legally required license to sell securities, and said that the trio (who apparently operated separately from each other) had agreed to cough up a total of three-quarters of a million dollars. Read more...
August 26, 2016
The Department of Homeland Security on August 26 issued a new rule making it possible for what might be called "inept entrepreneurs" to secure additional temporary legal status in the United States.
There appears to be no upper limit to this latest stretch and abuse of the government's parole authority and it is designed for a subset of entrepreneurs who have some entrepreneurial credentials, but who are not smart enough, or do not have a lawyer smart enough, to secure admission to the United States under the set of laws, regulations, and administrative flourishes now existing. Read more...
August 22, 2016
This is not exactly EB-5 fraud, but like a knock-off of a Gucci handbag, the scheme plays off the attraction of the original, in this case the EB-5 program.
There is now (or at least was quite until recently) an offer on the Chinese part of the internet made by a convicted American felon that says that a $380,000 investment in Florida real estate (isn't this where we came in 90 years ago?) can produce not only a nice place to live, but, within two-to-six months, a U.S. passport and many other governmental benefits as well. I am told by our translator that the term "EB-5" does not appear in the pitch, but the investment-in-exchange for immigration benefits proposal tracks EB-5 quite closely and is aimed directly at rich and insecure Chinese investors, the principal alien users of this program. Read more...
August 22, 2016
An interesting set of immigration policy question arose last week regarding whether EB-5 investors who have been defrauded by American business interests should get their green cards anyway, despite the failure of the investments — failures only remotely linked to the actions of the aliens.
The questions arose when the court-appointed trustee for the EB-5 disaster in Vermont, Michael Goldberg, said that he was going to use some of the EB-5 funds under his control to hire a lobbyist to seek a change in the immigration law to protect the interests of the 700 or so investors in the ski lodge at Jay Peak and other problematic Vermont properties, as we have reported previously (see here and here). Read more...
August 18, 2016
It should have been a glorious moment for her — she was about to become the first Eritrea-born woman in the United States to be elected to a state legislature — but even as she was winning a hard-fought Democratic primary earlier this month against the longest-serving member of the Minnesota House of Representatives in state history, it turns out that she was charged with immigration-related marriage fraud.
And the odd thing is that just over two years ago this summer, pretty much the same thing happened in Manhattan. This time the person was from the Dominican Republic, the first woman from her country to be elected to a state legislature. She managed to serve for a while in the New York State Assembly before her marriage fraud got her bounced from the chamber. Read more...
August 18, 2016
Suppose the U.S. government offered temporary legal status in a highly publicized, low-cost way, and the majority of the illegal aliens in the eligible age range ignored it.
What would that tell you about the value systems of the people involved? What would it say about enforcement of the immigration law?
Do the majority of these eligibles think highly enough of the community in which they live to want to get right with the law? Apparently not. Read more...
August 11, 2016
Earlier this year we wrote about a Florida-based EB-5 regional center that reported that its office in China was lodged in a Chinese City Hall, suggesting if not Chinese government ownership, then at least very solid ties to the government. Read more...
August 10, 2016
It had to happen, and it finally did.
With so many well-to-do Chinese families manipulating the immigration law through birth/citizenship activities, and so many of the same kind of families being manipulated by Stateside crooks in EB-5 investor-visa schemes, it was inevitable that one such couple would be enmeshed in both processes.
And it happened in the unlikely environment of far Upstate New York, in Dunkirk in the wine country west of Buffalo. Read more...
August 9, 2016
The reaction (or over-reaction) by the Erdogan government to the attempted coup in Turkey is bad news for America's unemployed school teachers – because there suddenly is a huge supply of newly-fired educators over there who would love to have a chance to work in America. Read more...
August 8, 2016
There has been a muted conversation recently about the question of Melania Trump's immigration status during her first trips to the United States.
Was she working on a visitor's visa (B-1) when she was not allowed to do so?
She subsequently, apparently, secured an H-1B visa (there are – God knows why – special provisions for alien models to secure these visas) and from there she moved to green card and then to citizen status. Read more...
August 8, 2016
Were a recent immigration-related ruling by Britain's Law Lords to apply to our Department of Homeland Security, it would bankrupt that agency.
You see, the Brit judges, in a case involving former British colony Antigua and Barbuda, said that if the islands' immigration agency did not make a decision about an alien's application in a period of 12 months, the agency owed monetary damages to the delayed alien. Given the long delays common to DHS, think what that would do to the Department's finances! Read more...
August 4, 2016
The U.S. government, which portrays itself as the defender of the little guy, has just reached out to another elite group (within an admittedly severely disadvantaged population).
This time it is to give Temporary Protected Status to a very lucky bunch of Syrians – people who had arrived in the United States on Monday, or earlier, either legally or illegally. Read more...
August 3, 2016
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), an opponent of "comprehensive immigration reform," lost his primary yesterday to another Republican.
The congressman's loss presumably had less to do with his immigration stand than his vote against farm subsidies, in one of the nation's most agricultural congressional districts – it includes all of western Kansas. Read more...
August 1, 2016
Five years ago I wrote about the klutz factor associated with some illegal aliens:
I feel sorry for the guy, and am pleased that the Border Patrol rescued him from the flooded Rio Grande, but the news story reminded me of the seldom-remarked-upon klutz factor in illegal immigration.
According to the account he was stranded in a tree while trying to cross the flooded river and had been there for five days. The BP spokesperson said that he was ‘severely dehydrated.'
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...