David North's blog

Administration Extends Idea of 'Extreme Hardship' to Ridiculous Extremes

By David North, October 7, 2015

"That was in another country; and besides, the wench is dead." — Christopher Marlowe

Here's the situation: An illegal alien (let's say the alien is male) is about to be deported, but he seeks a waiver on the grounds that such a move would bring an "extreme hardship to his citizen wife" so he should be allowed to stay.

OK, but what if the wife dies? What if she dies and the illegal has re-married? Can the hardship on the former (and now dead) wife be used to seek the waiver that will allow him to stay? Read more...

Administration Uses Sleight of Hand to Change Visa Rules

By David North, October 5, 2015

The Obama administration has used yet another sleight-of-hand maneuver in the visa process to get aliens here more quickly and to expand the legal alien workforce substantially.

The latest legally dubious executive action allows a large number of aliens who have been sponsored for a green card, but who are still years away from obtaining it due to the numerical limits of the law, to instead receive work permits and travel documents. These individuals will have permission to work and travel in the United States — de facto permanent residency — even before their applications have been reviewed, and in defiance of the numerical limits and orderly process set by Congress. Read more...

Migrant Deaths at Sea in This Hemisphere Too

By David North, October 5, 2015

We were having a quiet dinner at a Washington hotel when the conversation turned to the deaths at sea of the migrants coming from Africa to Italy.

"This happens all the time in the waters between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and the press never covers it," said the former Border Patrol agent. Read more...

Four Immigration Programs Extended to Dec. 11 by Continuing Resolution

By David North, October 1, 2015

Both houses of Congress passed – and the president signed into law – a continuing resolution (CR) yesterday which will avoid a government shutdown caused by a lack of funds, and, in the small print, will keep four specialized immigration programs alive for the duration of the CR, which will end on December 11.

The four immigration programs are extended in their current form, and will need another extension to keep them going past December 11. Read more...

EB-5 Debacle in Vermont Offers Schadenfreude for All

By David North, September 30, 2015

There's a failed EB-5 venture in Vermont that offers schadenfreude for all comers.

According to VT Digger, an online alternative publication, Seldon Technologies, a small scientific firm in Windsor, Vt., went out of business on Monday, laying off 32 workers in the process.

If you are a critic of EB-5, as I am, this is sad news for the little town, but good news on the national stage since the heart of the immigrant investor program will expire tonight unless Congress acts remarkably swiftly. Read more...

Oklahoma Again Reports an Increase in Taxes on Wired Remittances

By David North, September 29, 2015

With the U.S. Congress apparently poised to reduce fees on employers who hire massive numbers of foreign workers, a loss to the government of between $100 million and $250 million, it is a pleasure to note that Oklahoma continues to collect increasing amounts of money from its tax on wire transfers of money made by individuals (many of whom are illegal aliens.) Read more...

Secretive Alien Millionaires File EB-5 Class Action Case

By David North, September 28, 2015

Usually when you think of a class action suit it's a bunch of little guys, like individual stockholders or workers suing big corporations. (Disclosure: my stepdaughter lawyer files such cases for disabled people.)

It is usually a segment of the 99 percent suing a segment of the 1 percent, often in an attempt to make matters more transparent and to strip away secrecy.

Ah, but then there is Zhang v. USCIS, which is totally different from the usual class action case in that the fat cats are doing the suing and they want less, not more transparency. Read more...

Three Different Flavors of Florida Immigration/Marriage Fraud

By David North, September 25, 2015

Three different variations on immigration/marriage fraud have emerged in the U.S. courts in Florida recently.

There was the all-in-the-family-style for a quartet of people from the Philippines.

There was the marry-a-Cuban-to-get-your-green-card-in-a-hurry scheme involving 14 people.

And there was the cosmopolitan conspiracy in which fraudulent marriages were arranged for citizens of six different countries (Argentina, Colombia, Israel, Moldova, Ukraine, and Venezuela). This one included either 27 or 28 people, the accounts vary. Usually in immigration/marriage fraud cases the participants all have the same nation of birth, but not in this one. Read more...

It's CR Season in the Nation's Capital

By David North, September 24, 2015

It's that time of year; CR season has arrived in Washington and that has immigration policy implications.

No, the initials do not stand for Crisp, Refreshing weather, which is welcome. Rather, they stand for Continuing Resolution, which is not welcome, as it has become a near-annual symbol of political deadlock.

If Congress neglects its duty and fails to pass budget bills for the various parts of government before the fiscal year ends on September 30, then the solution — other than closing the government, which happens from time to time — is to pass an omnibus continuing resolution to keep the government going for a stated period of time, with expenditures running at the current levels. Read more...

The Triple Play That Will Bring in Still More L-1 Workers

By David North, September 22, 2015

We are in the midst of a triple play involving the admission of lots more L-1 foreign workers to replace resident ones.

L-1s are alien employees of big multinational firms ("intracompany transferees") who can be admitted to work in the United States for years at a time. Unlike the somewhat similar H-1B program, there are no numerical limits and no labor standards. Big firms, based both overseas and in the States, love the program. Read more...

EB-5 Mainly Helps Democrats, So Why Is the GOP-Led Congress Going to Extend It?

By David North, September 21, 2015

The EB-5 (immigrant investor) program disproportionately helps the constituents of left-leaning Democrats like Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.); the current and next Democratic leaders in the Senate, Harry Reid (Nev.), and Charles Schumer (N.Y.); and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) from Greenwich Village. So why do Republicans support it, particularly without reforming amendments?

This puzzling trend seems likely to lead to extension of the key part of the program, which will otherwise expire on October 1. Why haven't the Republicans noticed? Read more...

GAO Highlights USCIS's Need for More H-1B Fees

By David North, September 18, 2015

Two unconnected recent events remind us of USCIS's desperate need for more fees:

  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a "watchblog" calling attention to a May GAO report that said USCIS's new electronic decision-making system has been delayed and will cost six times as much as once predicted, for a new total of $3.1 billion.

  • A pro-H1-B website, MyVisaJobs.com, announced that, as of October 1, the $2,000 and $2,250 extra fees for H-1B and L-1 petitions filed by employers will no longer apply.

Wright State U. Played Much the Same H-1B Role as an Indian Body Shop

By David North, September 15, 2015

The dust-up over the role of the H-1B program at Wright State University in Ohio has grown into a full-fledged scandal, with the university apparently playing an exploitative role similar to that of the Indian tech-worker body shops.

In an earlier blog, I speculated that the demoted provost (and two other demoted/fired executives) may have been manipulating the H-1B system for personal reasons. There's still a possibility of that but for now it looks like the university was using its favored position as a university to squeeze profits out of foreign workers and both the H-1B and the Social Security systems while, at the same time, denying jobs to resident workers. Read more...

Is USCIS Ignoring a $100 Million-a-Year-Plus Cash Cow?

By David North, September 15, 2015

One of the federal programs that comes up for renewal — or death — at the end of this month levies an extra $2,000 per H-1B visa charge on companies that use large numbers of H-1B workers.

The government carefully does not publish data on this matter, but my best guess is that it is worth rather more than $100 million annually to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which collects fees for approved H-1B petitions. Read more...

The Slowly Unraveling H-1B Scandal at Wright State University in Ohio

By David North, September 14, 2015

The provost at Wright State University, near Dayton, Ohio, has lost his job as a result of an internal investigation into the institution's use of the H-1B program; a second official has been demoted and may lose his tenured teaching status; and a third has been fired.

It sounds very much like the university found out about the problems before DHS did, but that's a widespread pattern. An AP story indicates that a federal investigation is ongoing, but did not name the agency doing it. Read more...

When an Immigration Matter Is Handled Well, We Should Say So

By David North, September 10, 2015

Sometimes, despite the odds, something commendable happens within the immigration system and we should take notice.

I ran into two quite separate instances of this lately, one in which the congratulations should be shared by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, and in the other the kudos go to actors in the EB-5 program. Read more...

Washington Post Gets an Immigration Issue Right – End EB-5!

By David North, September 8, 2015

Rarely is the Washington Post right on immigration issues, but its lead editorial on Labor Day was exactly on target — it said that the nation should terminate the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program.

The main part of the program — which grants a full set of green cards to an alien family putting $500,000 into a Department of Homeland Security-approved, but not guaranteed, investment, is due to expire at the end of the month, just 22 days from now. The Post sees it as "corporate welfare". Read more...

EB-5 Roundup: Visas, Currency Controls, and Rich Kids

By David North, September 4, 2015

If your lawyer tells you not to something, it is a sure clue that some of his clients have, in fact, done that wrong thing.

Maybe that's especially true in the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program that provides a set of green cards to families investing half a million dollars in DHS-approved, but not guaranteed, investments. Read more...

DHS Adds Yemen to the Temporary Protected Status List

By David North, September 3, 2015

The Department of Homeland Security today added Yemen to the list of countries that have Temporary Protected Status for their citizens – legal or illegal – in the United States, bringing that list to a baker's dozen.

The ruling is effective as of midnight tonight, so that Yemenis in Canada and Mexico (if there are any) can rush to the border to participate. As usual, there is no need to be in legal status in the United States to benefit from this program. Read more...

The Quiet Little Struggle Over Extending the EB-5 Program

By David North, September 3, 2015

There's a quiet — but highly significant — struggle on Capitol Hill these days regarding the extension of the EB-5 program for immigrant investors.

On one side are representatives of the EB-5 middlemen and their big-city allies who would rather leave the current rules in place; on the other are those who want to make sure that the program will not be used to secure green cards for agents of foreign countries, and will be used to encourage investment in rural and depressed urban areas. Read more...

Ex-Vermont State EB-5 Director Stirs Controversy When Hired by EB-5 Project

By David North, August 27, 2015

There are now three states that play, or have played, a role in the federal EB-5 immigrant investor program, and every single one of them has been mired in controversy. (Most EB-5 regional centers are not affiliated with state governments.)

Late last month, Vermont joined the troubled list, along with the deeply flawed program in South Dakota and the one in Michigan, which had lesser problems. Read more...

Another EB-5 Scam: The Dalai Lama's Revenge?

By David North, August 25, 2015

You might call it the Dalai Lama's Revenge; it certainly is yet another one of those EB-5 scandals that pop up every few weeks.

This time the main ingredients are Lobsang Dargey, 41, who calls himself a former Tibetan monk turned real estate tycoon; 252 Chinese nationals who have invested in his EB-5 scams in the state of Washington; and real estate projects bearing the name of Potala — the palace that the Dalai Lama used to live in before being evicted by the Chinese government. Read more...

Sounds Like a Step or Two Backward on E-Filings for USCIS

By David North, August 25, 2015

In the great leap forward to an all-electronic application and decision system, USCIS has just announced that five key applications, currently available for e-filing, must be filed on a paper form starting September 20.

I am not a high-tech person, but this sounds like a retreat to me. Their explanation is: Read more...

An Audacious Would-Be Immigration Double Play

By David North, August 24, 2015

There's a would-be restaurateur out there who has dreamed up an immigration double play that would cause the senior partners at the Tinker, Evers, and Chance law firm to be green with envy.

I won't use his location, but he has placed the following ad on Craigslist:

Seeking an EB-5 Foreign Investor/Partner

Looking to open a large restaurant concept. ... Need a foreign investor with $5M in funds and ability to bring in labor with him for visas.

Chutzpah Squared in the Immigration Courts

By David North, August 21, 2015

The classic example of chutzpah is that of the killer of his parents throwing himself on the mercy of the court because he's an orphan.

I don't know if that ever actually happened, but an almost comparable case can be found in recent federal court records.

In this case it is an illegal alien whose marriage (or maybe "marriage") to a citizen was ruled by USCIS to be fraudulent later claiming that he should be given legal status because he had been abused by his wife. Read more...

U.S. and Iran Reach Atomic Deal — DOJ and Iranian-American IJ Also Settle

By David North, August 20, 2015

The governments of the United States, Iran, and five other nations — amidst much public attention — have reached an agreement on atomic energy and sanctions.

Earlier this week, and very quietly, the Department of Justice and one of its immigration judges, an Iranian-American, have settled their differences out of court. For the PACER file on the case, see here. Read more...

Farmers Who Want Workers Who Look Like Them Can Use H-2A Visas

By David North, August 19, 2015

Suppose you are a farmer in Belzoni, Miss., and you need eight farm workers.

If you look it up you will find that Mississippi is tied for 46th (with South Carolina) in the list of states' unemployment rates, with only Alaska, Nevada, and West Virginia having more joblessness. If you go a bit further, to county-by-county data, you will find that your county, Humphreys, ranks 79th out of 82 counties in your state, with an unemployment rate of 14.5 percent.

Since Belzoni is in the highly agricultural Delta area, and farm workers always have higher rates of unemployment than workers generally, you might think that it would be relatively easy to hire your eight workers locally. Read more...

Trump's Illegal Alien Policy Has Welcome Details Discussed by No One Else

By David North, August 17, 2015

Don't get me wrong, as a liberal Democrat I think Donald Trump would be a disaster as president.

On the other hand, I must say that I was impressed by the level of detail in his recently released immigration policy paper.

As Mark Krikorian has written, Trump's position "clearly has advanced the immigration debate." Read more...

A Grim Suggestion about the Young Central American Illegals Now in the U.S.

By David North, August 14, 2015

These are tough decisions to make and we, as a nation, have got them wrong.

I am talking about the unconscious series of decisions that we have been making about the political situation in Central America, notably in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Read more...

GAO Report on EB-5 Is a Mixed Bag: Some Zingers, Some Major Gaps

By David North, August 13, 2015

Wednesday's GAO report on the EB-5 program, "Immigrant Investor Program: Additional Actions Needed to Better Assess Fraud Risks and Economic Benefits", contained some useful elements — such as the finding that USCIS is not trying hard enough to identify fraud and threats to national security — but there were major gaps in what it should have, and could have, covered. Read more...