Brilliant at Everything but Managing the Immigration Rules

By David North, January 11, 2013

It is a strange combination, but it keeps appearing.

Some alien, or sometimes a group of them, is absolutely brilliant at some kind of activity, but a total klutz at managing immigration regulation.

Sometimes this odd mix is used as an argument that we really should loosen our immigration laws on behalf of some partially-brilliant group, or an individual. Here are three examples of this mix of talent and ineptitude.

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The Bank Embezzlers. Two mid-level bankers working in China, Xu Chaofan and Xu Guojun, over a period of years stole $482 million from their employer, the Bank of China, before their scheme was uncovered. They managed to escape to Canada and later to the United States, apparently with a lot of that money.

Now, what they did is not commendable, but you must admit that managing a bank fraud of that size takes real talent, a remarkable skill at the manipulation of complex systems. Xu and Xu proved to be total bumblers, however, when it came to handling North American immigration regulations.

Instead of buying their way into Canada or the U.S., legitimately, through immigrant investor programs available and well known in China at the time, they opted for the clumsy and dangerous approaches of purchasing counterfeit passports and engaging in U.S. marriage fraud.

Currently Xu and Xu are facing prison time in the U.S., charged with, among other things, immigration fraud, money laundering, and RICO violations. The Ninth Circuit has just affirmed their convictions, but has sent the case back to the district court in Las Vegas for a fine-tuning of their sentences. Users of PACER, the federal courts' electronic data system, can read the latest decision against them in appellate files 09-10189 and 09-10201.

The Disfigured Nigerian. Rather more admirable is a would-be Nigerian physician. He is Sopuruchi Chukwueke, the subject of both a recent blog of mine and more significantly, one of those rare private immigration bills to be signed into law.

This young man, apparently of humble origins, developed disfiguring (but not malignant) tumors on his face in Nigeria, and was saved by a nun who got him to the U.S. where he and his support system got him seven (U.S.-funded) medical operations, a presumably U.S.-funded four years in college, and an admission to medical school.

While the young Nigerian and his supporters hit a trifecta with the hospital, university, and medical school systems, the system collapsed totally regarding immigration, and instead of finding himself with an F-visa, he lapsed into illegal status, which was ended with the passage of the bill.

The Sometimes-Savvy Alien Entrepreneurs. Former Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), about-to-be-former Senator John Kerry (D-MA), and one of the two Senators Udall, Mark the Colorado Democrat, introduced the StartUP Visa Act of 2011 to help would-be alien entrepreneurs come to, or stay in, the U.S.

The premise seems to be that the next foreign-born Bill Gates will be have an inventive mind, will grasp the principals of start-up capitalism, will be able to raise funds from hard-nosed investors, but though he is one of the world's best and brightest, that alien will neither be able to figure out how our immigration system can be manipulated for himself, nor alert enough to hire a lawyer to work it out for him.

With the panoply of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas available for bright and/or moneyed aliens, you would think that the start-up capitalists would not need to have still another visa category created for them. After all, there are: E visas for treaty investors, the OPT years for recent F-1 graduates, H-1Bs for skilled workers, the exchange programs (J), and L-1s for employees of multinational organizations, all nonimmigrant classes, and various employment-based visas that lead to full immigrant status, as well as the EB-5s for immigrant investors.

Surely the inventive foreign-born start-up people are fully capable of tweaking one or more of those systems with their little fingers, while using the rest of their bodies and brains to invent the next wildly successful software system.

Apparently the senators three, soon to shrink to one, did not come to that conclusion.

(I am grateful to Joe Whalen, the EB-5 consultant, for telling me about the embezzling bankers.)