David North's blog

EB-5 Gets Another Black Eye – Maybe Two of Them

By David North, November 25, 2015

The EB-5 program suffered from one scandal last week in California (Chinese Americans cheating Chinese aliens) and maybe another as the FBI raided a major EB-5-supported property in Arizona.

There's more information on the California case than the Arizona one, but the latter has the more interesting cast of characters. Read more...

How the Grassley-Durbin Bill Allocates the 65,000 H-1B Visas
Part 2 of 3

By David North, November 24, 2015
Part 2 of 3

One of the most interesting elements of S. 2266, the bill proposed by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) regarding the H-1B and L-1 nonimmigrant worker programs, is the proposed distribution of H-1B petitions should there be, as there has been recently, more petitions than the 65,000 slots permitted. Read more...

Sens. Grassley and Durbin Propose H-1B and L-1 Program Reforms
Part 1 of 3

By David North, November 23, 2015
Part 1 of 3

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have introduced S. 2266, a comprehensive reform bill for the H-1B and L-1 nonimmigrant worker programs. It would, if enacted as now written, eliminate or narrow the abuses of these programs and probably open up some jobs for U.S. workers.

The bill, however, neither terminates the programs nor reduces the numerical ceilings, as one might wish.

Perhaps the most useful role of the bill is to put employers into a defensive posture so that the conversation is less about expanding the number of H-1B visas and more about the continuing abuses in the two foreign worker programs. Read more...

Their Eye Is on the Sparrow — USCIS Wastes More Time on Tiny Populations

By David North, November 23, 2015

Maybe it's the institutional version of an uncontrollable nervous tick, but USCIS seems hell-bent on wasting time on tiny populations.

We have seen the care that it lavishes on the abused step-parents of citizens (they get green cards) and the investors in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who are rich enough to be regarded as investors, but too poor to pay modest agency fees (they get a free ride).

Today's tiny population is aliens who have been in the United States for two years and who have filed Form N-300 declaring their intent to file for naturalization later. Read more...

Why Does DHS Perpetuate a Business where Most Will Lose Their Shirts?

By David North, November 19, 2015

Why would a federal agency keep expanding a specific type of immigration-related business even though most participants will surely lose their shirts?

Is it because the agency does not know what it is doing?

Or, as I have come to believe, is it a cynical plot by some Democrats to sacrifice a bunch of small-town entrepreneurs so that the underlying immigrant investor (EB-5) program will continue, even though most of the American players will go out of business?

I kick myself for not figuring this out earlier. Read more...

Immigration Trivia: What do Andorra and Vanuatu Have that Moldova Lacks

By David North, November 18, 2015

Here's a U.S. immigration trivia question based on today's Federal Register:

What do Andorra and Vanuatu have in common that Moldova lacks?

Geography mavens would, of course, answer that Andorra and Vanuatu both have half-French connections and Moldova does not, and they would be right. Read more...

Secrecy Shrouds Case that Pitted Iranian-American IJ Against Her Bosses

By David North, November 17, 2015

Perhaps it is a fantasy, but it would be nice if more immigration-related civil law suits went to trial and we could all hear the evidence and the judge's decision.

Instead they often get settled, and the settlement is kept secret.

That's what happened earlier this month in an odd case in which an Iranian-American immigration judge sued her bosses in the U.S. Department of Justice. As we reported in an earlier posting, Judge Ashley Tabbador of the Los Angeles immigration court sued the attorney general (her ultimate boss) when intermediary bosses decided that she should not hear cases involving Iranians. Read more...

Vermonters Are Clever When It Comes to Immigration Rules

By David North, November 16, 2015

When it comes to working with, or perhaps manipulating, the immigration rules, Vermonters are clever, and/or lucky. This is the home state, after all, of the current ranking member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); that's the committee that handles immigration matters.

We know that over the years Vermont has gotten quite substantial inputs of alien capital from the EB-5 immigrant investor program for its ski resorts, with a bare minimum of the scandals that beset that program elsewhere, such as in South Dakota. Read more...

Much Press Coverage for a Single ALJ in the Immigration Field

By David North, November 13, 2015

There's a remarkable bit of press coverage currently available (behind a pay wall) regarding a relatively new administrative law judge working in the immigration field for the Department of Justice, and her first five decisions in a year on the bench.

She is Judge Stacy Paddack, one of two ALJs on the staff of the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), and her work has been dissected (in a friendly way) by Law360, a press service that focuses on legal matters. Read more...

New York Times Finally Gets It Partially Right on the H-1B Program

By David North, November 12, 2015

You know it's going to be a good day when the New York Times, on the front page and above the fold, runs an article that is critical of the H-1B program, as it did Wednesday.

Then the sun shines and you find lots of even more damning material, and excellent graphics, on the jump page (with a full page devoted to this story.) Read more...

Ex-CIA Director Says "Unvetted" Foreign Workers Are Baggage Handlers

By David North, November 10, 2015

In the wake of a probable smuggled-on bomb causing the latest airplane disaster (over the Sinai), former CIA Director James Woolsey has pointed out the problem of using lightly screened foreign workers as baggage handlers at airports.

Further, it was noted by others that an airport contractor with the unfortunate initials ISS has hired Somali refugees to work on planes at the Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix. Read more...

You Might Regard This Bill as a Compliment to the Labor Department

By David North, November 10, 2015

The let's-exploit-foreign-workers-even-more bunch on Capitol Hill has just introduced a piece of legislation that might be regarded as a compliment to the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL). (Disclosure: I worked there more than three decades ago.)

Three Republican congressmen have introduced what they call the SEASON Act to ease the minimal existing regulations on the H-2B program for unskilled, non-agricultural foreign workers, and to expand the numbers of be admitted each year, without actually saying so.

The SEASON Act would also make it possible for these "seasonal" workers to stay in the country for up to three years at a time if their employers so desire. That's a long season! Read more...

Generous Obama Administration Gives H-2A Shepherds a Raise to $5.80 an Hour

By David North, November 6, 2015

The Obama administration, supposedly the friend of both migrants and the working man, has just given the nonimmigrant shepherds of the American West their first raise in about 20 years — they are to get $5.80 an hour plus housing (often a tent) and the materials for their meals (which the shepherds must cook for themselves), effective November 16.

In return, the shepherds watch their sheep by night, to use an old phrase, or, to use a newer one, are on duty 24/7. Read more...

Yet Another EB-5 Promoter Swindles Alien Investors, This Time in Florida

By David North, November 6, 2015

It is getting to be a formula.

Yet another EB-5 promoter has swindled millions from alien investors, presumably her fellow Chinese, and used the money to buy a yacht and a $100,000 Mercedes among other things, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (not DHS) has broken the case. Read more...

Sen. Feinstein Announces She Is Opposed to the EB-5 Program

By David North, November 4, 2015

Those of us opposed to the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program got a piece of good news today: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced that she is opposed to its renewal. The heart of it is due to expire on December 11, unless Congress acts before then.

The senator is in a key position to argue against the renewal; she is a senior member of the Senate immigration subcommittee and the second ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which handles immigration legislation. Read more...

Little Dominica as a Laboratory for Immigrant Investor Rules

By David North, November 3, 2015

The American states, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, are laboratories for democracy. One can say that same thing about nations, even small ones, and immigration laws. Read more...

The Strange Tale of a Flaky, Failing EB-5 Firm

By David North, November 2, 2015

We have previously reported that Seldon Technologies, Inc., an EB-5-funded firm in Vermont that briefly made water filters for Mexico-based Bebederos, went out of business abruptly, laying off all of its 32 employees.

In June, Seldon had a grand ceremony with Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) present to announce that it had been awarded a $20 million contract to make the filters for Bebederos. A few months later the contract was cancelled with minimal explanation.

CIS recently has learned more about Seldon, an odd and ill-fated corporation that was able to secure EB-5 funding anyway. Read more...

Crooked EB-5 Lawyer Bites Dust West of Dodge City

By David North, October 30, 2015

The little town of Ulysses, Kan., (pop. 6,273) on the plains some 80 miles west of Dodge City hoped that the proposed EB-5-funded ethanol plant would perk up the town's sagging economy, as we reported last year.

The plant was never completed, much less opened. The owner of the plant, and of the regional center handling the transaction, was Justin Moongyu Lee, then a California lawyer. The money was used for something else and Lee, as a result, was disbarred. Read more...

An Emerging Victim Class: Citizens Hurt by Immigration/Marriage Fraud

By David North, October 29, 2015

I am starting to realize that there is class of citizens who have been hurt by immigration-related marriage fraud — a group that, in many cases, has other disadvantages as well.

To put it another way, the citizens who have been bamboozled into marriage by wily and often attractive alien members of the other sex are not always the strongest, sharpest people, or the most marriageable ones. They should be regarded as victims, just like those hurt by financial skullduggery. But there seem to be no helping agencies for this unfortunate group of citizens and, unlike in Canada, no official recognition of their problems. Read more...

TPS Goes Far Beyond Helping Aliens at Risk of Deportation

By David North, October 28, 2015

Newly released USCIS data on Temporary Protected Status for aliens from three West African nations shows that for every alien whose deportation is prevented, about 100 applications for TPS are received. Read more...

Sen. Flake's Non-Solution to EB-5 Gerrymandering

By David North, October 26, 2015

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has introduced S.2115, "The Targeted Employment Areas Improvement Act", which will not help the economic gerrymandering that has dogged the EB-5 immigrant investor program.

In fact, his bill will perpetuate the problem.

The EB-5 program grants alien families who invest $500,000 in a DHS-sanctioned, but not guaranteed, investment a full set of green cards. The program is supposed to channel investment moneys to depressed rural and urban areas, but most of the funds have gone into real estate projects in glitzy locations like New York City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. With minor exceptions, EB-5 moneys are supposed to go to areas with unemployment rates at least 150 percent of the national rate. Read more...

Update on EB-5 Scandals in South Dakota

By David North, October 26, 2015

In an earlier blog on the extremely serious, but confusing, EB-5 scandals in South Dakota, I managed to conflate two of the controversial activities. I said that the payments from the EB-5-financed, bankrupt cattle slaughterhouse in Aberdeen, S.D., to the Cyprus entity owned by a Russian railways oligarch, Ultracare Holdings, were made through a British Virgin Islands company that had been chartered in the Cayman Islands. Not so. Read more...

DHS Bends Over Backward to Accommodate Marianas Employers

By David North, October 25, 2015

Employers love, and workers despair of, loose labor markets. When there are a lot more workers than jobs employers can pick and choose, and pay lower wages.

Given this truth, the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration is going out of its way to be super nice to employers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (Saipan); this is a U.S. territory lying north of Guam in the Western Pacific.

DHS has announced in the Federal Register that it has reduced the ceiling on the number of temporary alien workers in these islands by 1,000, down to 12,999. Sounds like a movement toward a tight labor market, right? Wrong! Read more...

Obama (Now) and Jeb Bush (Then) Spur Naturalization for Political Gain

By David North, October 22, 2015

From the early days of Tammany Hall to the present day, American political parties have sought to expand their power by making sure that aliens favorable to the party in question are encouraged and helped to become citizens and voters.

In fact, both Barrack Obama (currently) and Jeb Bush (some 30 years ago) have followed this hallowed pattern. Read more...

Finally — USCIS Zaps South Dakota's EB-5 Regional Center

By David North, October 20, 2015

USCIS has, finally, done the right thing regarding the blizzard of scandals that marred the EB-5 program in South Dakota, from sloppy accounting (at least $5 million is missing), to a huge bankruptcy (for the state) of a large, EB-5-supported beef slaughterhouse, to the alleged suicide of a prominent GOP politician and major EB-5 figure who was ruled to have shot himself in the stomach with a shotgun.

According to a detailed account by reporter Bob Mercer of the Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic, who has been relentless in his pursuit of the complex story, USCIS has listed a long series of questionable actions by the state and proposes to terminate South Dakota as the operator of the DHS-licensed middleman agency for the program, the regional center. Read more...

Don't Look for Truth in Headlines when Reading DHS Press Releases

By David North, October 19, 2015

The Department of Homeland Security press release that went out Friday afternoon — the time a skilled pressie knows that readership will be low — carried this headline: "DHS proposes changes related to on-the-job training program for STEM students".

The word "change" is correct, but there is no training in this program. It is just one more foreign worker program and it has nothing to do with students; it is for recent alien college graduates. Read more...

Are DACA Aliens Gang Members? USCIS Does Not Want to Know

By David North, October 16, 2015

Are DACA aliens members of gangs, or were they ever?

The government potentially knows the answer because it is on the application form (I-821D). But in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Center we were told that we could not have any data on the topic because, "The information you seek is not a field that is electronically captured." Read more...

Two Specialized Migration Programs, One Much Better than the Other

By David North, October 16, 2015

Last month I wrote about the four immigration programs that were set to expire on September 30 with the end of the fiscal year. Congress passed a Continuing Resolution extending most spending programs, including these four, until December 11. But two of the immigration programs caught my eye and I started comparing them.

These are the relatively well-known EB-5 program, which sells a set of green cards to alien families investing half a million dollars in DHS-approved, but not guaranteed investments, usually in urban real estate, and the more obscure Conrad-30 program, which brings foreign physicians to under-served (i.e., poverty-stricken) parts of the country. (I should add that it is only the heart of the EB-5 program that runs out soon, this is the provision that allows the use of estimated indirect creation of jobs to fulfill the requirement that 10 jobs must result from each investment.) Read more...

Remittances: What the Beautiful People See and What Actually Happens

By David North, October 15, 2015

When you go to a conference run by the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund or similar entities, you run into lots of beautiful people on the institution's staff.

They are the elite from all over the world; slim, well-tailored, well-educated, well-spoken in several languages, self-confident, and much better looking than your average subway car or bus full of people. I cannot put myself in their shoes, but I can envy them, particularly on the grounds of their linguistic skills and the fact that they do not pay American income taxes on their quite adequate salaries. (There are even special nonimmigrant visa classes for those that live in America, for their families, and for their servants, G-1 through G-5.) Read more...

Foreign Worker Program Could Run Out of Time
Can OMB approve new regs fast enough to meet court's OPT ruling?

By David North, October 12, 2015
Can OMB approve new regs fast enough to meet court's OPT ruling?

This should be an interesting (if Inside-the-Beltway) race to watch.

The federal district court in Washington has ruled that the Department of Homeland Security must rewrite the regulations for the OPT program – which provides scores of thousands of jobs for recent alien college grads without any supporting legislation. The current timetable is that the new proposed regs must be ready for publication by this Thursday, October 15, or else the OPT program will come to a halt in February. Read more...