USCIS Is to Be Commended for Taking Action Against Immigration Crooks

By David North on June 9, 2011

USCIS and related agencies are to be commended for their planned joint action against phony practitioners of immigration law and others who prey on migrants seeking help within the morass of the American immigration system.

That agency and several others announced today, with some fanfare, that they were going to take several steps to mitigate this problem, and to punish the malefactors. They managed to obtain this morning a long, favorable story on the subject by Julia Preston, the New York Times reporter who covers (and cheers on) that agency.

The announcement was made at a USCIS event, featuring Director Alejandro Mayorkas, two Justice Department officials, the director of ICE, a Federal Trade Commission Commissioner, and, to add both an out-of-town and a GOP flavor, Greg Abbott, the elected Attorney General of Texas.

According to the Times "The effort involves a blitz of advertising to alert immigrants on how to recognize fake lawyers and consultants, and an effort by prosecutors [both federal and state] to bring criminal cases to serve as examples."

The roll-out of the program was announced at one of the USCIS stakeholder meetings, with a considerably larger than usual audience. Most of the questions of the six panelists came from representatives of ethnic media, some of whom wanted more quantitative information than the speakers had or would give. "We are not in the business of telling people how many on-going investigations we have," said ICE Director John Morton with a little smile.

In her article, Ms. Preston mentioned one by-product of this program, but not several others. She discussed the political utility of the move, saying: "The campaign . . . is an effort by the Obama Administration to step up one form of assistance to immigrant communities which have intensified their criticism of President Obama as they have faced a record pace of deportations in the last two years."

I see the effort as a highly useful one, but note that there are several variables that neither the government officials nor Ms. Preston mentioned:

1. If this drive is at all effective, one of the groups to be helped will be the government officials handling petitions filed by migrants. Higher quality and less-fraudulent applications are easier for the staff to handle than those with the opposite characteristics.

2. Similarly, while the government's proposed activities will be detrimental to the shady folks in the immigrant-assistance business, it will be helpful to the legitimate non-profits and the decent immigration lawyers.

3. To the extent that bad guys, who had been pocketing fees destined for USCIS, instead of actually paying them, are thwarted, it will swell USCIS coffers (at least by a little bit).

4. And then there's the rarely-spoken truth that often the immigration fraudsters are also migrants, from the same country, who arrived a little earlier than their victims, and are a little sharper and a little more aggressive than their newly-arriving countrymen.

It's a shame that a similar amount of executive time and energy could not be spent on another worthy project, protecting resident workers from de facto government-sanctioned labor market depression and displacement, caused by overly-large nonimmigrant and illegal alien work forces.