The Extremes of ‘Prosecutorial Discretion’ in the Immigration Context

By David North on August 4, 2022

While the Biden administration has used the general idea of “prosecutorial discretion” to allow millions of illegal aliens to cross our southern border with only the nominal need to report to a court years later, it has, in one notable case involving a Chinese national involved in a massive Ponzi scheme, jailed the suspect on the grounds that he left a line on a visa application blank.

While I have no sympathy for Jianxiang Shi, he is getting the Al Capone treatment in spades. He is in the federal penitentiary awaiting trial for filing an incomplete application for a B visa. One of the things you are supposed to do is to list your citizenships, easy enough for the vast majority of humans who have a single one. Shi, however, is a citizen of China, St. Kitts (in the Caribbean) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (in the Pacific). His application for the tourist visa just listed the first two, and not the third.

Part of his defense is that he does not speak English; another part is that the people who filled out the forms cannot be found.

”Fraud!” yelled the feds as they popped him into jail. While some might regard Shi’s failing in this specific case as about as evil as forgetting to put your middle name on your driver’s license application, the feds think about it differently, saying he lied on two visa applications by not including the Marshall Islands on his form.

There are two back stories here:

  1. Some nations, often island nations, make money by providing passports to rich aliens, something like our EB-5 immigrant investor program, but even more lax; some people with these multiple citizenships are cross-border crooks; and
  2. Shi, according to a Law360 report is “one of the most wanted men in China, which has put out a red notice on Interpol for him based on charges of ‘crime of alleged illegal fundraising by fraudulent means.’ Chinese authorities accuse him of orchestrating a $6.4 billion Ponzi scheme that involved putting investor money into film productions.”

The Law360 article goes on to say that Shi wrangled photos of himself with such celebrities as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mike Tyson, and Bruce Willis.

The trial started on August 2 in Miami. Perhaps the feds want to get a conviction on him, get him sentenced by the judge, and then put him (in manacles) on a trip back to China.

One of the morals of this story is that if you want something from our government, and our government is actively not fond of you, fill in those forms very, very carefully.

Editor's note: Following publication of this post, Jianxiang Shi was convicted of two accounts of immigration fraud and faces ten years in jail.