If we could only channel the remarkable creativity of those seeking to violate immigration law into other, better, endeavors, there would be shuttle planes flying to and from Mars — right now.
In a recent posting I told how one alien had successfully used a phony divorce to secure a green card, while another had been thwarted in the same maneuver. Not a phony marriage, which is not very creative, but a phony divorce.
Today's example of frustrated illegal creativity — and USCIS gets high marks for this one — involves an alien in the yucky business of exporting sea cucumbers who tried in vain to snag a green card for, essentially, putting excessive money into a stable enterprise.
This is yet another EB-5 story. The EB-5 program (for employment-based, fifth class) gives a set of green cards to families putting half a million dollars at risk into a U.S. investment designed to create at least 10 jobs for legal U.S. workers. It is a tempting target for the innovative crooks of the world
The self-described jobs-creator in this case is, apparently, a nonimmigrant Asian businessperson who has a well-established, profitable American business of shipping the sea cucumbers (presumably) to China, where they are regarded as delicacies.
I say apparently and presumably because the story emerges from a decision of one of the DHS appeals bodies, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), which routinely redacts all sorts of information from their decisions, out of a misguided sense of privacy. What is left of this decision can be seen here.
Back to our story: The assertive alien tried to convince USCIS that he had, in fact, made a half million dollar investment of legally obtained money, that the money was at risk, and that it would create 10 jobs. The agency turned him down on all three fronts and AAO agreed.
The alien, they said, had not proved the source of the funds, the money was not at risk because the successful enterprise did not need more money so there was going to be little change in the business, and thus no new jobs. In short, three strikes and the alien was out.
First, the USCIS staff and the AAO judge were exactly right on the merits, but I am not happy with AAO for one aspect of the decision. The presumably non-Mandarin-reading decision maker, in dealing with the question of the source of the half million dollars, faulted some of the translations presented; the length in English was nowhere as long, in terms of pages, as the length of the document in Mandarin, the decision said, and thus the judge suspected that he or she was not being given full translations. Now, in a huge, cosmopolitan agency like DHS, could not the judge have found someone — good at both languages and a trustworthy federal civil servant — to look over the documents and tell the judge whether or not both documents were complete? One would think so.
Second, as to sea cucumbers, they are slugs that live on the bottom of the sea, and they are also an endangered species — I am totally neutral as to their preservation as I have an aversion to such critters.
In sum: the export of the (I think) dried versions of these little beasts will continue, no American jobs will be lost — or gained — because of the AAO decision, one or more green cards will be saved for use by other alien investors, and an all-too creative would-be immigrant has been thwarted. The system got it right this time.
I am grateful to Joe Whalen, an EB-5 consultant, for calling this decision to my attention.