On Dec. 29, the Washington Post published a piece titled "FBI, New Jersey investigators gathered evidence of undocumented immigrants who say they worked at Trump golf course, lawyer says".
According to a lawyer representing several aliens who were working at the Trump facility in New Jersey, they were provided fake documents — fraudulent green cards purporting to show that they were lawful residents — so as to evade detection and arrest.
If — and I cannot emphasize "if" strongly enough — the allegations are true, they are serious and merit a full inquiry as to who might have been involved. Off the top of my head, I can think of several federal crimes potentially implicated by such behavior:
- Harboring and concealing an illegal alien from detection (8 U.S.C. Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(3)), carrying a penalty of five years imprisonment per alien;
- Knowingly hiring for employment at least 10 individuals with actual knowledge that the individuals are unauthorized aliens (8 U.S.C. Section 1324(a)(3)), the penalty being five years imprisonment;
- Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents (18 U.S.C. Section 1546), also five years imprisonment per alien; and, of course,
- Conspiracy (18 U.S.C. Section 371), the penalty being five years imprisonment.
Given that the aliens themselves would be implicated in criminal conduct by having accepted and used fake documents, why would they acquiesce to their lawyer providing such assertions to law enforcement — which, notably, according to the article, were made to Special Counsel Robert Mueller?
The superficial answer is an illegal alien might do so to get ahead of the curve, seek "use immunity" for his or her crimes, and then even perhaps ask for U visas to gain the right to live and work in the United States. Of course, given that no one appears to have been looking at this facility, eyes having instead been focused mostly on Mar-a-Lago, there appears to be a measure of self-interest involved on the part of these aliens that should be scrutinized closely. What better way to accrue status when no other avenue is available? How far would an alien be willing to go to make such claims if the end game was the right to stay legally?
And in the case of one alien, according to the article, she now already has legal status — presumably a real green card — and has much to lose by admitting she previously participated in this fraud, because the first thing any immigration officer would do is go back to her application for status and see if she withheld admitting to that materially significant crime (which clearly she did or they would never have granted status). So why is she coming forward now? What has been promised to her, and by whom?
This leads us to the deeper question of where this lawyer came from and who is funding his efforts. Is he, or his funds provider, partisan and seeking to embarrass Trump? This would not, of course, excuse criminal activity on anyone's part — and it wouldn't be the first time immigration crimes were used to uncover corruption — but it leaves one wondering. Is this another sub rosa Democratic-funded "Steele Dossier" in the making?
Another curiosity is that the FBI and New Jersey investigators are said to be working a case involving immigration crimes. Neither has primary jurisdiction in such matters. There is also great irony that New Jersey investigators have been asked to work on an immigration case given that New Jersey is a sanctuary state. How interesting and picky-choosey the state's attorney general appears to be!
One wonders how either agency can possibly make the case without reference to the immigration authorities, since they have neither the expertise nor the official databases to make a case. Where is Immigration and Customs Enforcement in this equation? Are they for some reason not trusted to conduct the investigation? Why not?
In light of all these unanswered questions, and the fact that the FBI's track record of late is decidedly muddled where the matter of impartiality about the president is concerned, it seems to me that a much better course of action would be for the inspectors general of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to jointly investigate the matter.
As things stand, the allegations have dropped into the great black hole that surrounds all things Special Counsel and this is an untenable state of affairs for all concerned, not least the body politic.