There's both good news and bad about an alien in the courts for immigration-related marriage fraud.
The good news, and this is unusual, is that he got caught and the Seventh Circuit has overruled his appeal. He is Kiril Hristov Vidinski, and he paid a citizen to marry him for immigration benefits. He has been an illegal alien in the United States for 18 years.
The bad news is that his case has been dragging along for 14 years and that remarkable amounts of bad luck and his own stupidity seem to be the prime reasons for his downfall — not an alert government.
A Bulgarian national, he came to the United States on a visitor's visa in 1998 and overstayed, becoming an illegal alien. In 2002 he married Constance Literski, a U.S. citizen, and in 2006 they sought to secure a green card for him as her immediate relative. (He paid her $5,000 over the years for this arrangement.)
She subsequently told a federal agent about the bribe (risking an indictment in the process); he was hauled into immigration court, which ordered his removal to Bulgaria. He then appealed in vain to the Board of Immigration Appeals and, after losing there, to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. That court rejected his appeal on November 1, as recorded in the PACER file. Ms. Literski was not indicted.
What is interesting (and depressing) about the case is the extent to which bad luck and Vidinski's own stupidity shaped the case. Had his luck been better or his competence been of a higher order the end of the story might have been different.
The bad luck included:
- Most immigration/marriage fraud cases are one-off situations, which the government routinely does not prosecute; his was one of several involved a ring of conspiracies and DHS pays attention to some of these.
- His nominal ex, Ms. Literski, told the feds that she had been paid by Vidinski to marry him; that usually does not happen.
- He retained a lawyer who was not very alert, but was not bad enough that he could plead the absence of competent counsel, though he tried to do so.
The stupidities included:
- After he nominally married the citizen, he filed a long series of income tax forms as an individual.
- In immigration court he refused to testify on his own behalf, raising judicial eyebrows.
- His ex was subpoenaed to appear at the hearing and did not do so; neither he nor his lawyer sought at the time to postpone the hearing until she was present, as they could have done. This nullified his later argument that he did not have an opportunity to cross-examine her in the course of his defense.
There's a continuing irony regarding the lack of opportunity for this alien to examine his ex-wife in a courtroom, an opportunity that he, as an illegal alien, had in this case. Citizens whose spouses have accused them of abuse, often fraudulently, never have such an opportunity when their spouses seek green cards under the Violence Against Women Act, as we have reported in the past. In fact, the citizen is routinely not told of the abused spouse's filing or its results.
These are two different kinds of immigration-related marriage fraud. In one instance, as in this case, the illegal (arguably the villain) who paid a bribe to a citizen has rights of cross-examination; in the other the citizen (arguably the victim) does not.
Only in immigration land.