A Case Study: Violating and Enforcing the Immigration Law

By David North on November 22, 2010

Sometimes it is useful to take a look at case histories of the violations of, and the enforcement of, the immigration law.

It is well known that it often takes the government a long time to wrap up a criminal case involving a violation of the immigration law.

Sometimes the process of breaking the law takes a long time, too. Here is an example of both processes.

It is the case of Michael Mitry Hadeed, Jr., who used to practice law just south of Washington, D.C., in Springfield, Va. (where I once lived).

The case caught my eye because of a clerical error on the part of the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR); that agency had sent out an electronic note saying that it had attached a press release on disciplining 16 immigration lawyers, and then, minutes later, sent out another message saying that they were withdrawing the first one.

I was intrigued. What had EOIR done that it quickly hid? Well, not much. The staff had failed to attach the routine press release on the 16 misbehaving lawyers and had withdrawn the cover note until they could attach the release, which they did a few minutes later.

One of the most seriously disciplined of the 16 was Hadeed, who had been expelled from the EOIR practice. Not just suspended, expelled. I figured he must have done something pretty outrageous, and I was right. (Of the 16, four were expelled and 12 were suspended.)

It all started long ago, in December 1999, and concluded with Hadeed's expulsion from the EOIR bar on June 28, 2010, more than ten and a half years later.

The account that follows is based on both his indictment and the Court of Appeals summary of the case (documents 1 and 140 on PACER, the federal courts' pay-per-view electronic documentation system, at 1:08-cr-00461-LMB.)

In 1999, Hadeed met Marouf Arbid, a Lebanese bartender seeking a green card. Arbid apparently had no legitimate way of securing legal status in this country. The lawyer and the bartender decided to beat the immigration system by manipulating the labor certification process.

To get a labor certification, which can be turned into a green card, you need to have a needed occupational skill and an employer who wants to hire you. Arbid had neither, so Hadeed had to invent both out of whole cloth. What Hadeed had, however, was another client, one who owed him a lot of money and who owned the King of Pita Bakery in Alexandria, Va. That client at first conspired with Hadeed and signed documents for him, but later pled guilty to immigration fraud and testified against the lawyer.

Hadeed agreed to reduce the bakery owner's debt if the latter would sign labor certification applications, the form ETA-750, for workers he did not need, and would not hire. With that part of the deal nailed down, Hadeed then, according to the indictment, "prepared and caused to be prepared a letter which falsely stated that Marouf Arbid was previously employed as a baker at the Albert Abella & Cies Bakery in Beirut, Lebanon from 1989 to 1999."

The preparation of the letter in May 2000 was the first of many steps that were taken on behalf of Arbid, who eventually got the green card he wanted.

With the Arbid application underway, Hadeed then turned his attentions in April 2000 to a national of Yemen, Ibrahim Fadl Alakwa, another non-baker. Condensing severely the process described in the indictment, the lawyer obtained another forged credentials letter, this time from the Al-Jandool Sweets and Bakery in the Republic of Yemen, and an ETA-750 from the same Alexandria, Va., bakery. Using these he then filed an I-140 petition with the then-INS, followed by an I-485, an application to register Alakwa as a permanent resident.

By now it is the fall of 2002. In the following January Hadeed told Alakwa to visit the King of Pita Bakery "so that he could accurately describe it if questioned by immigration authorities."

In February 2003, with the green card not yet in hand, the King of Pita began paying payroll checks to Alakwa who in turn cashed them and gave all the money back to the bakery, "all in an effort to falsely substantiate the false immigration applications and related documents," again according to the indictment.

Though the indictment did not mention this, such an arrangement could have been used by King of Pita to pad its business expenses, and thus reduce its state and federal corporate taxes.

Then all concerned phonied up yet another application, this for an I-765 which leads to an employment authorization document (EAD) for an alien without a green card. The EAD apparently expired on March 3, 2005, when the green card, apparently, arrived. (Indictments are not always the most detailed of documents.)

The court files indicate that Hadeed went through comparable maneuvers for three more non-bakers, though in one case the alien in question might have had a plausible asylum application.

Eventually, through a process not described, Hadeed was indicted in November 2008 for conspiracy and immigration fraud and was convicted on May 29, 2009. The Virginia Bar Association suspended his license a year later; the decision in district court was affirmed by the Fourth Circuit on April 30, 2010, and on June 28, 2010, EOIR expelled him from its bar, announcing it in a press release on November 19, 2010, almost 11 eleven years after the fraud began.

Since I know of no way of electronically checking all deportations, I do not know how many – if any – of the five "bakers" are still in the country. In two cases, I know that the workers spent some time in detention, apparently while waiting for their trials.

Hadeed got off with little more than a slap on the wrist; three months of home confinement and a fine of $1,000 per count, apparently on two counts. But while they still answer the phone at King of Pita, the Hadeed law firm's phone has been disconnected.

In addition to documenting the glacial pace of both the immigration decision-making and the legal discipline processes, the story of Michael Hadeed reminds us of two different things: 1) even crooks specialize, and 2) the utility to society, if not to the individuals involved, of having the Labor Department play a role in labor certifications. If nothing else, an additional agency in the process, as in this case, does slow the flow of migration.