There is a small stream of migration cases in which an alien seeks a green card claiming that she (it is usually a woman) had been abused by her new citizen spouse and for that reason should get permanent resident alien status. In these cases, she self-petitions for legal status on the grounds of the abuse; in many cases no abuse has occurred.
Because of these cases, I became vaguely aware of a still more rare, and seemingly odder, claim that is made from time to time under the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): that an alien parent had been abused by a citizen child and thus deserved a green card.
Why some alien should get a visa to stay legally in the U.S. for the rest of their life because of an unruly adult child is a mystery to me, but it is part of the law.
In terms of numbers, in FY 2022, there were 6,360 self-petitioning spouses admitted on abuse grounds, but only 77 parents, according to Table 6 of the FY 2022 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.
Now, I am happy to report, DHS and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York have indicted two lawyers for a massive and complex scheme in which the lawyers, father and son, put together phony claims of U.S. citizen children abusing their non-citizen parents so that the parents could get green cards. I have been paying attention to such things for years and have never previously seen a child-abuse-of-parent green card case before.
Routinely in immigration fraud cases, those seeking benefits for themselves and their helpers do so within a given ethnic group; everybody involved routinely speaks the same language, for example, but not this time. The father and son are Kofi Amankwaa Sr. and Jr.; these are Ghanaian names; the four specific cases cited in the indictment were undocumented Mexican nationals, who are neither named nor were they charged. An interpreter, presumably dealing with English and Spanish, was an unindicted co-conspirator. (There can’t be too many people who are fluent in both Spanish and the languages of Ghana, even in the Bronx, where these events took place.)
The Amankwaas were handling these cases on a massive scale, according to the indictment; from September 2016 to the present they filed 14,423 forms with the government, often three or four per client. Compare this number to the actual admissions in the most recent year of 77 abused parents.
Father and son were prolific in their filings, but were equally so in their failures, chalking up a rate for withdrawn, abandoned, and denied filings of 97 percent according to the indictment, compared to a 30 percent rate nationwide. At one point, their firm had 47 percent of the nation’s denied I-360 forms.
One of their techniques was to secure advance parole for illegal aliens claiming to have been abused by their adult children; the alien would then go to Mexico and seek to return legally to the U.S. to pursue a green card. Sometimes that would not work and the alien, rather than being present illegally in the U.S., was kept in Mexico. They typically charged aliens $6,000 each for their services.
One of the mysteries of the case, not explained in either the 12-page indictment, or the office’s shorter press release, was how father and son were able to collect so many “clients” when their batting average was so poor, and when they lacked any ethnic ties to them. Presumably it relates to the lack of sophistication of their clientele.
In numerous cases, the parental victims told investigators later that their children had not abused them, that they were on good terms with them. The lawyers said that the charge was a “little white lie” designed to give the parents legal status.
The elder Amankwaa had his license to practice law suspended in November, according to the New York Times, and the son was reported not to be licensed to practice in New York. The New York State attorney general has also taken action against the father and son as well as against three of their colleagues.
Maybe it is time to junk this particular segment of VAWA.